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Why Creators Should Never Read Their Forums

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the lalala-i-can't-hear-you dept.

Communications 221

spidweb writes "One full-time Indie developer writes about why he never goes to online forums discussing his work and why he advises other creators to do the same. It's possible to learn valuable things, but the time and the stress just don't justify the effort. From the article, 'Forums contain a cacophony of people telling you to do diametrically opposite things, very loudly, often for bad reasons. There will be plenty of good ideas, but picking them out from the bad ones is unreliable and a lot of work. If you try to make too many people happy at once, you will drive yourself mad. You have to be very, very careful who you let into your head.'"

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Obligatory reference to /. (5, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#34774162)

Sometimes you just have to wonder about the /. editors...

Re:Obligatory reference to /. (1)

furbearntrout (1036146) | about 4 years ago | (#34774258)

Agreed. this explains much.

Re:Obligatory reference to /. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 years ago | (#34774426)

Really? I'm quite sure the slashdot editors don't read any posts. They just put up links to articles and summaries, using whatever summary comes back first after putting the source URL onto the slashdot irc channel.

Re:Obligatory reference to /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774322)

No mod points for you! [youtube.com]

Re:Obligatory reference to /. (2)

kesuki (321456) | about 4 years ago | (#34774482)

Sometimes you just have to wonder about the /. editors...

no need to wonder, just watch the tv we grew up on.

ummm (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | about 4 years ago | (#34774652)

read the post about about taking a dump and playing SONIC the hedgehog SEGA

Re:ummm (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 4 years ago | (#34775442)

Maybe you should read that post, as it has nothing to do with Sonic the Hedgehog, or with taking a dump.

If you're not going to read your forum ... (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 4 years ago | (#34774168)

... don't have one. It's really that simple. If you do have a forum on your site -- any site -- then users have a reasonable expectation that you'll read it and, if not cater to their every whim, at least take their opinions into account. Failing to do this send the message "we don't care about our users," and that's not exactly a formula for success.

BTW, this shouldn't be taken as a slam against Spiderweb Software, which has produced some really excellent games over the years. More a general note, I guess.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (5, Insightful)

devxo (1963088) | about 4 years ago | (#34774188)

It's still a general place for the users to go and discuss with each other. Usually you also always find other people willing to help you if you have problems with the game.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (4, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 4 years ago | (#34775292)

Not only that, but having support and/or marketing staff/people in place to filter suggestions, is probably a good idea... TFA has some valid points, if you've seen the way some indie games go, it's a wonder they get anything done as often there are diametrically opposed requests for changes in game metrics.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (2)

Moryath (553296) | about 4 years ago | (#34775438)

The problem is that there are games where there are unified calls - nigh unanimous - and STILL the developers aren't f'ing paying attention.

One clear example: Lionhead Studios. One thing on almost every forum I've seen is a massive call to fix the "houses constantly breaking down" problem, either by implementing a global or per-city "repair all houses [lionhead.com] " function. Yet, Lionhead are content to just ignore this.

Of course, Lionhead are probably not the best example, since they obviously didn't playtest a number of things in their game anyways. I regularly "fell through" the world geometry in a couple of zones, and spellcasting was basically a joke: the only useful spells/combos in the game are Fireball, Fireball/Forcepush, and Vortex/IceStorm.

Of course, I was in a small beta playtest for an MMO back in the day. I wrote up entire, multiple-page analyses of why certain classes were getting ignored by the player base - essentially, boiling it down to the fact that (a) certain abilities in the games just did not work as advertised (or in some cases, at all) and (b) certain abilities were just mind-bogglingly boring. Did the developers pay any attention? Not as near as I could tell. The fix for the mind-bogglingly boring ones would have been relatively easy, a palette swap and trading of one or two attacks for something with a tad more flavor (it was a "pet class" that was supposed to summon elemental pets... yeah right, all it did was summon little sand-colored turd golems). The fix for the broken stuff was to actually fix the bugs - but that didn't happen till 8 months after the game's release.

I could name the game or developer, but I'm betting a number of people can already guess who it was even from that small bit of info.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 years ago | (#34774210)

There's a reasonable compromise if you have a substantial enough forum population: impliment thread rating and when a thread gets righted highly enough by enough people go take a look at it.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774244)


Game forums in particular are full of hard headed bitter NEVER CHANGE ANYTHING zealots and headache inducing SKORPION TAHT HOVARS WIHTOUT FLAPPING stupid new ideas. In the middle can be some good ideas. But finding them... god... yeah, don't envy anybody in that position of trying to read them. At least thread (and individual post rating) ratings helps filter out the noise a little bit.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#34774700)

Dwarf fortress in general takes this approach even so far as being used as a way to sugest priorities with the DF Eternal Suggestion Voting.

You can't sift through all the crap yourself but once you have a community who will hang out on your suggestions forum for you the dross of "oh, HAI! We should totally have quicktime events in this game cause they're awsome!" quickly gets burried by sane forum members while good ideas will get mostly positive attention.

QuickTime events (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#34775100)

We should totally have quicktime events in this game cause they're awsome!

And then you have other people say they'd never play quicktime events because the updater always nags to add iTunes and Safari to the installation, and your press-X-to-not-die cut scenes [tvtropes.org] should use Windows Media instead. Cue another reply that VLC is more capable than either and available on more platforms.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#34775214)

Dwarf fortress in general takes this approach even so far as being used as a way to sugest priorities with the DF Eternal Suggestion Voting.

Bugzilla too allows voting (unless turned off), but votes are almost always ignored completely -- it's just a way to give the users a perception that their opinion or support counts.
Much like letters to congressmen, which really only benefit stationary companies and the post office, but placate the sheep.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#34775180)

There's a reasonable compromise if you have a substantial enough forum population: impliment thread rating and when a thread gets righted highly enough by enough people go take a look at it.

You assume that being highly ranked means it contains valuable content, and isn't just a combination of back patting, being short enough to read for Gen-ADD, very obvious, slightly funny, and attention catching?
Written and voted for by users without a clue of what's actually implementable, and ignorant of laws preventing plagiarism?


Like here, the gems of wisdom are usually hidden within all the noise, and obscured by the popular posts.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (4, Insightful)

Zenin (266666) | about 4 years ago | (#34774230)


Of course you can't just stick your finger in the wind of the forums to design your game. You do need to actually judge and filter ideas that come up in forums; Design is not a democracy.

But more then a few games with great potential have shot themselves in the face repetitively by ignoring the forums. They either never were aware of huge game-destroying issues or came up with their own incredibly horrid solutions, when in fact the users had suggested exceptionally good ideas in the forums.

The nice thing about game forums...the users do much of the filtering for you already. Bad ideas get torn apart by other users with great haste, exuberance, and detail. They figure out every possible angle much better then developers could ever do.


It's very disheartening to watch your favorite game crash and burn while the developers implement bad idea after bad idea, despite really great suggestions flooding the forums.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (4, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | about 4 years ago | (#34774302)

Bad ideas get torn apart by other users with great haste, exuberance, and detail.

Or not, as the case may be; good ideas may equally be torn apart because they don't agree with the preconceptions and assumptions of the particular users on the forum. Your argument assumes that large collections of people will produce the best solution, or even a usable solution, by consensus. That's not often the case in my experience.

Democracy is the least bad political system because it limits the power of those in charge and forces them to be held to account, not because it produces efficient or desirable results. To apply it to realms other than the political is not always useful.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 4 years ago | (#34774542)

"It's very disheartening to watch your favorite game crash and burn while the developers implement bad idea after bad idea, despite really great suggestions flooding the forums"

i know how you feel, final fantasy was one of my favorite series but the latest ones are sorta uninspired. advance wars went wrong when they went to a online version of the game, lacking voip and simplifying maps, while making non fog of war play very one sided. it is like they wanted people to be bored with it and not play.it.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (5, Interesting)

psetzer (714543) | about 4 years ago | (#34774616)

While you get an idea of what the people who post in the forum like by reading it, it's not necessarily the best choice overall. The people who post on gaming forums are going to be a self-selected subset amounting to a couple of percent of the total player base, tops. This means they're going to have opinions that may not reflect everyone who plays the game. Most notably they're going to be more hardcore than average.

There is no war game, simulation or RPG mechanic so utterly baroque that someone won't decry streamlining it as 'dumbing down' the game. Inevitably that someone posts on the developer's forum. People got unbelievably pissed off when Dungeons and Dragons got rid of THAC0 and made higher armor classes better. All THAC0 did was complicate the rules set and give newcomers one more reason not to play past their first game. D&D 4e among many other things eliminated enemies that drain levels on touch since permanently weakening a PC sucks, it disproportionately hits melee classes, and it brings the game to a halt as you recalculate everything every time someone gets hit.

Ultimately, designing a game is a different skill set from playing the same game. Players can give an idea of what they personally liked and disliked, but as a rule have a pretty terrible idea of what's possible and what's balanced. Designers who forget that are begging for trouble.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

rich_r (655226) | about 4 years ago | (#34775072)

There is no war game, simulation or RPG mechanic so utterly baroque that someone won't decry streamlining it as 'dumbing down' the game.

That's a keeper!

Vanguard, Case and Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774968)

Look at Vanguard, that game failed horribly and is one of the most boring games I have ever played. They had huge amounts of discussion on the forums and in IRC Chats. What was the end result? A game designed for nostalgic EQ1 players, that ended up ticking everyone one off.

One of the great Ideas from the "Van'bois" included: Release the game on Blu-ray (4 years ago) and charge $50 a month so that only "serious" players will join the game.

Go back and read the Vanguard Development forums and you will realize that the only people who post on an unreleased games forum are uber-fanboys trying to influence a game to fit their basement dweller lifestyles.

Re:Vanguard, Case and Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34775132)

I think that's a bad example; the forum posters were the least of Vanguard's problems, and the fact that it was bad and failed can't be blamed on the players.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 4 years ago | (#34774254)

Forums can still be useful, you just need other people separate from the creators to filter things first.

Based on my own experience with large forums, about 10% of the posts will be good ideas and positive remarks, 10% will be actionable bug reports, and the rest will be a mix of unhelpful criticism, bad ideas, useless bug reports, and off-topic. Wading through all that will wear anybody down.

I completely understand creators not wanting to deal with that. Find some users who've been reliably helpful for a long time, and make them part of the team as moderators. Part of their job is to filter stuff and forward the useful posts to you. The moderators need to be good and unbiased, of course, or you risk creating a nasty disconnect with your community (see Valve with Left 4 Dead).

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (5, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | about 4 years ago | (#34774264)

If you're not going to read your forum... don't have one. It's really that simple. If you do have a forum on your site -- any site -- then users have a reasonable expectation that you'll read it...

I think this is a rather silly perspective. I personally provide a chatroom and forum services for players of a game I wrote and have similar services for other software I've written. Sometimes other users answer questions, occasionally I do, and sometimes they go unanswered. There is no "reasonable expectation" that I personally will read anything: if that's what you want, you should find a commercial product and purchase support at a nominal hourly or per-incident fee.

Time spent reading forums is time not spent developing a product. Jeff makes a good argument in TFA that, in many cases, this is a good tradeoff.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34775374)

From personal observation I think there's definitely a reasonable expectation. Maybe it's different for smaller indie games, but certainly the majority of forums for bigger games I've frequented have a common theme of the devs not listening/caring about user issues in the forums/lack of communication to address those issues etc. The few sites who get it right get a lot of kudos for the interaction but largely sites seem to be getting this very wrong. At best they'll put moderators in place who tend towards the power crazy hardcore fan base who make things worse rather than better. And this kind of attitude: "if that's what you want, you should find a commercial product and purchase support at a nominal hourly or per-incident fee" doesn't help - these people aren't leechers, they're customers who have bought a product or potential customers who want to buy a product making suggestions for how to improve it. Maybe not all of the suggestions are helpful, but suggesting they should pay for the privilege of helping you make a better game (or that they pay for support for bugs and glitches in a poorly made game) is the kind of elitist nonsense that I'm talking about. GP is right, if you don't care about your users then don't pretend to care, or if you do, don't complain when you end up with disappointed users who thought you genuinely wanted their feedback.

Completely agree (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#34774274)

The whole reason of having a forum is to have an equal discussion medium. Everyone who participates is on equal footing more or less and you can have big discussions on whatever you like. If that's not what you are after, that's fine, but then don't have one. Just post the information you'd like to give to people on your website. Having a forum and ignoring it is stupid because, as you note, it makes people feel neglected but if someone doesn't watch after it it'll just get used for spam or other shit like that.

So really what you need to decide is do you want to deal with user feedback or not. Saying not is fine, deciding that users really don't know what they want is a perfectly legit strategy, one that I might note has been wildly successful for companies like Apple who basically say "We know what you want, you'll get things the way we make it and like it." For an indy company that wants to do that, don't have a forum. Let people discuss your shit on other forums and ignore those forums.

However if you do decide you want a forum, then you need to read it to see what you users want. That doesn't mean listen to everything they say, but see what is on there. You'll find that there is plenty of hate, plenty of stupidity, but also plenty of good ideas and feedback. You'll want to see what it is that concerns your users. For example if feature X is something that nearly every user on the forum complains about, then it is probably a problem. If just a few loudmouths whine about it all the time and everyone else ignores them or tells them off, then probably not.

Obviously you are going to need to have thick skin to some degree, you'll have to deal with haters. However to have a discussion mechanism and then to refuse to participate is rather silly.

Re:Completely agree (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#34775430)

I couldn't agree more, particularly on the thick skin front - there's nothing difficult about scanning a forum for good ideas, even if people are being nasty, unless you have the sensibilities of a 12 year old school girl. This

"Forums contain a cacophony of people telling you to do diametrically opposite things, very loudly, often for bad reasons. There will be plenty of good ideas, but picking them out from the bad ones is unreliable and a lot of work. If you try to make too many people happy at once, you will drive yourself mad. You have to be very, very careful who you let into your head."

Sounds like plenty of development planning meetings I've attended. There's nothing special or mystical about forums, just like any other gathering of people you have to ignore the idiots, realise which people have their own agenda and have a modicum of talent for picking out the good ideas and discarding the bad in such a way that you don't look like you're trashing people for trying to help. If you can't manage that then having a forum which makes it look like you're prepared to engage just sends mixed signals - at worst it looks like you're trying to manage negative reaction. A lot of companies have forums specifically because it allows their customers to vent their frustrations, but the results can be buried/hidden from search engines in a way that wouldn't be possible with third party forums.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#34774370)

I couldn't agree more. One of the most pleasant things I've noticed since becoming a heavy Android user is that small-time devs are much better at listening to their customers' complaints, and actually read their own forums, answering users' questions and acknowledging bug reports and feature requests.

I'm surprised many people don't seem to care about this kind of thing. Getting an answer within 24 hours from a dev, whether by forum, e-mail or whatever, will greatly help my willingness to send cash his way :)

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | about 4 years ago | (#34774604)

For suggestion, bug report, and support forums, I agree. For general purpose, game discussion, and chit chat forums, I don't. There's something to be said in allowing users an outlet for their nerdy discussions, and in allowing them to provide their own tech support, completely apart from developer considerations.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

ZeRu (1486391) | about 4 years ago | (#34774608)

Also, I think that there's plently of good advices on game forums and that game developers would prove to be very stubborn not to listen them.
Also, differentiating good and bad advices shouldn't be that much of a problem. Of course you'll drive yourself mad if you try to follow advices like "I want the World of Warcraft to be more like CounterStrike", but by reading game forums you'll also find many creative advices which will not only improve your game, but also save you a lot of time and thinking.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774618)

That, quite frankly, is rubbish.

If you have a forum on your site, that doesn't say anything about whether you yourself will read it. Users who want to contact you can use your contact page (I'm sure you'll have one); beyond that, the idea that users would "have a reasonable expectation that you'll [...] take their opinions into account" is about the stupidest thing I've read all day. Maybe people really have that expectation, but it sure as heck isn't reasonable, insofar as that it's not *unreasonable* when you do not "take their opinions into account".

That's not to say that having a forum really *is* a good idea - you should probably ask yourself what your reasons are for having it and whether you need one at all.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | about 4 years ago | (#34774668)

Anonymity online does breed assholes, as TFA quotes. A way to avoid non-constructive opinions is to provide dedicated channels for feedback and issues your users may have, encourage them to be unbiased in these channels, and have someone moderate these too, preferably.

All the rest (of the forums) will then fall under free discussion (free range), and those channels should not even be considered a source of development ideas or feedback.

Simply put: separate feedback and ideas, from everyday talk and rants. It may take a little effort, but any user base is worth it, if you care enough about them :-)

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 4 years ago | (#34774684)

Offering a place for players to discuss the game with each other and help each other with problems can still be a valuable service.

Personally I disagree with TFA, though. Feedback from players can be incredibly valuable. You just need to be picky and efficient about it. Know which fans tend to write useful stuff and only read that. Have a rating system. Have a personal blocklist so you can ignore the idiots. Maybe have an explicit "this is what I read" forum, and only allow valuable fans (positive karma and not on your blocklist) to post there.

Even the author of TFA relies on fans for feedback. Just not every single fan, but a limited cadre of fans who have proven themselves useful.

But even without any kind of moderation, it can work. Brad Wardell (of Stardock, Galactic Civilizations) read and posted on usenet. And those were often very interesting threads. Not just because of what he wrote, but also because of dedicated gamers giving their well thought-out opinions. No idea if it made a difference to the games, but it certainly made a difference to our perception of Brad as a game developer who really cares about gamers.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 4 years ago | (#34774724)

To be honest, as a long-time member of their forum, I can confidently say it will indeed drive you mad, regardless of whether you are Jeff Vogel or not. :P

However, the division between what Spiderweb Software does and what the forum thinks has been there for years, and its reason is simple (and kind of frustrating): Spiderweb Software made a game that its fans loved, and it bombed (Blades of Avernum). Then it made a game that the fans didn't like (partly out of They Changed It Now It Sucks, but also for real complaints like a simplified gameplay and greatly reduced impact of character mortality) and it sold very well (Avernum 4). The company had no real choice in that matter - making a small group of fans happy simply makes no economic sense compared to making games that sell.

Re:If you're not going to read your forum ... (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 4 years ago | (#34775470)

If you're not going to read your forum... don't have one. It's really that simple.

Tough call. Forums are a community experience, just because you're not going to be monitoring them heavily doesn't mean that people won't benefit. For some of the game forums I post to, I'll often get another player to answer my question fairly quickly... which a developer/supporter might respond to days later. And sometimes the community responses completely remove the need for an official response (often because the question was already asked-and-answered by a developer some weeks ago).

With the internet, there is simply too much noise. Haters and trolls will fill even the common "Bug Report" or "Tech Support" forums, let alone a "Suggestion Box" forum. So suggestion forums and such are often pretty lame.

Then, to be honest, you have people that are either stupid or want the product to be something else entirely. I recall seeing long threads in a forum about how a new TV show was stupid... it should have been done this way (completely different plot / theme with a genre shift).

So, flat out state that you'll monitor bugs and tech support issues but the rest you'll only occasionally review.

You're not reading this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774174)

You have a big pannus and you fap to kernel recompiles,

Re:You're not reading this (1)

allanw (842185) | about 4 years ago | (#34774192)

Damn how'd you know?

Re:You're not reading this (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#34774200)

Frankly, I would find that more exciting than trolling as A. Coward

People read forums? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 4 years ago | (#34774180)

So far as I can tell no-one reads forums. Even here on Slashdot I regularly get people who reply to a long thread when they clearly haven't bothered to read all of it.

Thankfully that's still considered rude on mailing lists.

Re:People read forums? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774194)

People read mailing lists?

Re:People read forums? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774252)

People read replies by Anonymous Coward?

Re:People read forums? (1)

rhade (709207) | about 4 years ago | (#34774300)


Re:People read forums? (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 4 years ago | (#34774324)


Oh wait...

Re:People read forums? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 years ago | (#34774234)

Well, that's because I've read so many ten page threads where seven of them are two-three persons flaming each other and three pages are discussion from everyone else. Once I hit the first page that's full of nothing but shit I'm more likely to jump to the last page and just give my opinion on the subject. The SNR on most forums is just atrocious because some people can't help getting fired up by each other even though it's like having two people use bigger and bigger megaphones so that no one else in the room can hold a conversation.

Re:People read forums? (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | about 4 years ago | (#34775326)

And yet if someone rips through the thread and redacts all the "Me too!" and "I know this is OT but ..." and "IT NOT WORK 4 ME" posts they get called a Nazi and the banhammer comes out ...

Forum Rules are usually posted in a sticky at the top of the forum, and they should be read. We need to be a little militant with n00bs and fools to get the message across. Breed a generation of people who will actually RTFM and learn how to ask questions intelligently.

Re:People read forums? (1)

theY4Kman (1519023) | about 4 years ago | (#34774416)

Because it requires skill, intelligence, and patience to work a mailing list.

Re:People read forums? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774714)

Well, you're right about one of those things anyway.

Re:People read forums? (1)

magpie (3270) | about 4 years ago | (#34774722)

tl;dr Soulskill isn't that bad

Re:People read forums? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | about 4 years ago | (#34775074)

I agree with you. I think that chickens should not be considered Turing powerful.

Some people aren't bothered by criticism (1)

WarJolt (990309) | about 4 years ago | (#34774202)

Spidweb seems to take things a bit personally. Good thing he doesn't read forums; I don't think he could take this criticism.

Re:Some people aren't bothered by criticism (5, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 4 years ago | (#34774224)

Creative people are often sensitive. I wouldn't want to limit my world to things created only by people with thick skins: they are often unperceptive.

Re:Some people aren't bothered by criticism (4, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | about 4 years ago | (#34774810)

There are actually creative people who can take criticism. No idea how rare they are, but they definitely exist. John Carmack has posted on Slashdot. Brad Wardell has posted on usenet (off all the hotbeds of flamewars and trolls...). And I think Brad has had very productive discussions there, which did influence his games.

For example: Brad prided himself on the good AI for Galactic Civilizations, and it certainly had the best AI I've ever seen in a turn-based strategy game. But it still lacked true killer instinct. Brad said it'd be too frustrating if the AI truly pulled all the stops on dirty tricks. I (and others) disagreed; we argued that if a game had difficulty settings called "impossible" and "masochistic", we expected some serious punishment to come our way. We wanted the AI to trick us in the same ways we tried to trick it. In the end, I think he made one particular AI pull all the stops on the hardest difficulty levels. Not all, unfortunately, but it's still something.

Of course there were also idiots who complained that the game was too hard because they couldn't beat the AI at "hard" difficulty, and needed someone to explain to them that they could set the difficulty to "normal" or "easy". You just need to be able to recognize the idiots and trolls and tune them out. Anything that might be useful, you need to read in the most positive light possible. But some people have mastered those tricks.

Re:Some people aren't bothered by criticism (3, Insightful)

19061969 (939279) | about 4 years ago | (#34775158)

Critique is fundamental to design - good & great designers actively seek out criticism. Whether the criticism is worthwhile is another question, but any designer worth paying is big enough to deal with flack. IMHE, I've found designers to be the most motivated solicitors of feedback.

Bollocks. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774208)

Whether it be FOSS or some organisation paying you, you always take into consideration the stakeholders. It's just that simple. I run an non-FOSS project (Freeware) and which also has a forum of about 700 active users and I always try to listen to them all or get someone else to tabulate their ideas. This can be made easier by using mechanisms like what Ubuntu uses [ubuntu.com] (Even if Ubuntu devs ignore it, it's a good idea none the less). Fact is, you may not like it but it's an important part of any SDLC so either put up or shut up and let your users hate you for not even trying.

Re:Bollocks. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 4 years ago | (#34774590)

Well first and foremost you are making a big assumption, namely that the people who bitch about a game on a forum have any stake whatsoever in the game at all. Oftentimes they are essentially complaining that the game isn't x, despite the fact that the makers never intended the game to be x, never said it to be x, and most rational people don't want it to be x. For instance I've seen people who essentially go on boards and say "XYZ game is just another lame JRPG. JRPGs suck, play Halo instead". That comment isn't even remotely helpful and the poster probably never even PLAYED game XYZ so is in no way a "stakeholder". Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] probably sums up this kind of poster best.

On the flipside (3, Interesting)

estitabarnak (654060) | about 4 years ago | (#34774212)

I had a great time playing Galactic Civilizations II. The experience was certainly enhanced by interacting with the game's creators on their forums. These folks were pretty good about releasing major updates for a good while after the release date, so suggestions actually made it in to the game. If nothing else it was nice to feel like someone was listening for once.

In short, responsive/interactive game developers can enhance the experience both in and outside of the game; taking every suggestion doesn't matter.

Re:On the flipside (2)

Ravenger (715905) | about 4 years ago | (#34774682)

I participated in a community forum for a game series I worked on for many years. As a member of the game dev team I was able to give insight and information to the community, and help with tech support and problem solving.

I helped build it into the central place on the net for info about our games, and in doing so we garnered a reputation for excellent customer support, and I had a great time interacting with the very people who played the games I worked on, and made some good friends.

You do have to filter what the community are saying - a lot of it is contradictory, and of course your most loyal fans are by definition the most core players, so they'll often request features which could make the games less appealing to less core game players.

I'm now working for a different company and I'm not involved in community building anymore, and to tell you the truth, I really miss it.

I believe that that direct interaction between a developer and their customers is a good thing, and can build a loyal community who will help promote your games. That sort of good will is priceless.

In my experience (1)

Bozzio (183974) | about 4 years ago | (#34774242)

In .y experience this i all too true. I've developed a few homebrew apps for the wii, and while the wiibrew wiki was great for dusplaying your work and interacting with the community' it also gave a lot of peple the impression they could their creative input should carry as much weight as the author's

I did get some good feedback, but it was usually drowned out by all the 12 year olds asking everything from mp3 players to game system emulators to be integrated into your app. I found it really hard after a while to stay polite with people who would flame you if you disagreed with them.

I do xbox indie dev now and the community seems older amd more reasonable, but much less active.

sorry about all the typos. i wrote this from a kindle!

Re:In my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774306)

A moderation system should help somewhat, no? Don't read comments that aren't modded up. Those that are modded up are presumably representative of some reasonable percentage of users.

Right and wrong (mostly right, though) (2)

sstamps (39313) | about 4 years ago | (#34774286)

Jeff is right that managing game forums is a job. A thankless one that can chew through even the most heavily armor-plated CSR over time. Community Management can be one of the most difficult jobs any game company employee can take on. So, yes, if you as a creator/developer, or your team does not have the skillset to manage forums, it's going to become a cesspool of unhappy people fighting amongst themselves and denouncing your existence and lineage all the way back to Lucy.

Gamers are passionate people, though the game industry is not necessarily the only industry where you'll find such. The trick is, if you are going to have forums, and you want them to be of value to you as a creator (as well as to your customers), you have to manage them. Ignoring them because it turns out to be an intrinsically difficult job isn't really much of a solution, and will really only fan the flames even more. A lot of the time, the act of distancing yourself, either in intent or just apparent, will make it appear like you just don't care; that you live in an ivory tower away from the players and look down your nose at them with the all-too-common "I'm the game developer, and I am always right/best/smartest/insert-superlative-here", regardless of whether you explicitly say it or not. When it comes to this phenomenon, appearance of impropriety has nothing on the appearance of hubris.

What this means is that you have to communicate. Frequently, candidly, and, most importantly, VISIBLY. Remember that "say five nice things for every mean thing" notion goes both ways, but is meaningless if hardly anyone sees it.

There may also be technical problems in communication. Some game companies opt for some REALLY REALLY BAD community portal/forum software that is just total pants. No matter how good a communicator you are as a creator, or how stellar your Community Management team is, if your communication venue and tools are crap, it will completely ruin you. On the flip side, an extremely well-designed community portal / communications venue setup will make your job of communicating and interacting with your customers an absolute delight.

Yes, there will be those people who will simply be chronically unhappy with you no matter what you do, and yes, the anonymity of the interwebz can turn people into total douchebags. Do everything in your power to use the carrot to try and bring them around, but never be afraid to resort to the boot if they simply insist on spreading their misery to you and the rest of your (otherwise happy) customers. Not saying necessarily ban them, but at some point, you can just simply say "I am truly sorry that I/we have failed to resolve your issue(s) / bring you enjoyment with my efforts; I want you to know that I am at my wits' end trying to do so. At this point, I would suggest that maybe this game / community simply isn't for you, and I would urge you to seek out another game or form of entertainment that can bring you enjoyment. There is simply no sense in remaining somewhere where you are miserable, and I don't want you to be miserable, here or anywhere. I wish you the best of luck in your travels, and you'll always be welcome to return, if you do find something of value to you here later."

One last thing: don't fall into that "well, the forums are only representative of 10% of the playerbase, and only the loudest cranks to boot" trap. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant to how you treat your customers. It generally is only true to a certain degree, and grossly generalizing and overtly dismissing the entire body of forum participation as non-representative of the greater majority of your playerbase is the kiss of death, ESPECIALLY if you say that publicly. So, don't do it. Ever.

Re:Right and wrong (mostly right, though) (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | about 4 years ago | (#34774530)

Please stop posting your novels here.

not quite (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 4 years ago | (#34774296)

On the contrary, a developer should pay attention to the forums if only to keep an eye on bugs. It's perfectly fine to do whatever you want with your chosen project but you'd better know about the times where something doesn't quite work as you'd expected once it's out in the wild.

Re:not quite (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | about 4 years ago | (#34774432)

As the TFA states, in most companies someone should scan the forums - but it shouldn't be the developers. Hire (or recruit from users) someone to sift the bug-reports and reasonable suggestions from the junk and bile.

Solution: be firm, and hire a moderator (1)

mentil (1748130) | about 4 years ago | (#34774326)

Make it clear what input you want from users, make it specific. If you just say "here's a forum, post your comments" then you'll get lots of random whining. If you try to implement every single idea mentioned in the forum it'll end up as design by committee, and maintaining one creator's vision is usually a better idea. Game designed by committee: Yet Another WW2 FPS. Game designed by visionary: Super Mario Galaxy. Which would you rather make?
After a while look for someone with many well-thought-out posts and offer to make them an unpaid moderator. Check up periodically to make sure your mod isn't slacking off or godmodding, and have them email you every now and then summarizing users' legitimate gripes/bug reports/suggestions.

A prime example of this not working (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 years ago | (#34774328)

Angry Birds on the iPhone is a paid app without ad support. It runs very well, and is a great "toilet game." You can lose yourself for quite a while playing it.

Angry Birds on Android is ad supported, with fullscreen video adverts between levels and banner adverts during play. The banner advert in the top right of the screen makes zooming and seeing the whole of the map difficult, and when out of signal range (Plane? Tunnel? Anywhere where you have hours to spend doing nothing) the video adverts don't load, so you cannot progress to the next level. Every other comment is now either a previous user reporting the issues, or a new user telling how much they hate the adverts. I don't know how much he makes from the adverts per user, but so far he's lost approx 40% (by my guestimate) of the players he could have had if the adverts were less intrusive. If that 40% is an acceptable loss, then good for him, but if he read the comments and acted upon this overwhelming opposition to the advert intrusion to the game, he'd potentially make a lot more money.

Re:A prime example of this not working (4, Informative)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about 4 years ago | (#34774776)

The problem is that Android apps don't have any copy protection on them, so users can simply copy the app from each other. Rovio gets around the problem by simply displaying adverts and make $1M a month from this strategy.

http://androidcommunity.com/angry-birds-android-ads-make-rovio-1m-per-month-20101208 [androidcommunity.com]

Re:A prime example of this not working (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 years ago | (#34775378)

Not from me they don't. I uninstalled the app the very first time it didn't load the next level after completing the one prior, stating a "Connection error" for the reason. I am very much not alone in that practice, as the comments on the Android Market will testify.

Re:A prime example of this not working (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | about 4 years ago | (#34775394)

What are you on about? I have never, _ever_, seen a video ad on Angry Birds for Android, and the game comes with all levels in the .apk. Maybe you're talking about Angry Birds Seasons which did require a net connection to download the level, since they were releasing a new level every day in December, up to Christmas.

Whaddaya mean, creators? (4, Funny)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 4 years ago | (#34774332)

Nobody who retains any semblance of sanity and wishes to keep that should ever engage in online discussion. It's usually pointless, annoys people and yourself to no end and you seldom feel you've accomplished anything.

Now if only I had realised this before starting to develop this god-damned need to add my two cents whenever someone is wrong on the internet...

Re:Whaddaya mean, creators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34775062)

You started off a billionaire, but now have nothing at all, eh?

Great example is the IMDB boards (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 years ago | (#34774350)

You've got all sorts of hyper-critical morons calling every moving under the sun boring or overrated. At the same time, you've got the fan boys calling Paulie Shore movies the next Citizen Kane. Open calls for criticism usually garner responses from the extremes.

It's like looking up car reviews. You might as well throw out all the 1 and 5 stars since they're respectively the guy pissed off that the dealer took too long getting the car cleaned or the woman astroturfing for Ford.

Just make it open source.... (4, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#34774356)

Just go with the general spirit of the open source community. Set up a chatbot that post "Fix it yourself if you do not like it" to every forum entry and don't give a shit about your users. Problem solved. Or not.

meh, not that hard to filter the good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774360)

prime example, ive been following the previously indy game mount and blade since it was in .754 in the suggestions forum there was always a bunch of 1 or 2 page threads, and at the top there was always three or four threads running well into their 200th page. obviously these are the ideas people want most.

Re:meh, not that hard to filter the good and bad (1)

ledow (319597) | about 4 years ago | (#34774528)

And you've made the classic mistake - "want most" does not equal "good idea". That's the part that's *really* hard to understand until you actually are on the other end of it. Most of those suggestions would end up completing unbalancing games and basically turning things into click-fests or making them too complicated.

Listen to the users. But filter appropriately.

Creators should not obsess over their forums (1)

Vekseid (1528215) | about 4 years ago | (#34774380)

None of their fans are going to want to see all of their time taken up by community engagement. Some, certainly, are clueless, and enjoy being time vampires. You deal with time vampire 'fans' the same way you deal with time vampires in real life.

If you have an issue with the time commitment, make a rule for yourself and stick to it. "I'm only going to visit the forums on Friday nights." Or something similar. People will give you a wide berth, especially once your forum reaches a decent size (more than 10k members or so). Maybe a bit too wide, even.

Religion (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 4 years ago | (#34774408)

So much for the power of prayer.

I agree (2)

Bensam123 (1340765) | about 4 years ago | (#34774430)

To a certain extent I agree fully. Hearing criticism can be quite helpful, but often times that has ulterior motives behind it, The criticism itself isn't often times objective, but extraordinarily subjective at least online. I've played WoW for years and it's easy to see what a community can do to a game, both good and bad, and how sometimes it leads the developers to take on a position they wouldn't normally (like acting like god). The developers on WoW forums have aquired a very nasty tone through all the ass kissing some people do and whenever they're confronted with issues they can't directly address it, instead they need to go around the problem and apply a band aid fix in order to look like they were never wrong or they don't even address a glaring problem and instead go in a completely opposite direction as to avoid or obsolete the problem. If you never visit the forums you can never be proven wrong because people don't know if you actually read their post or not. It's almost like politics and it's quite laughable. Just look through the blue tracker on mmo-champion.

Someone could really write a case study on the effects of forums on game developers. This doesn't even take into account all the trolls, people with malicious intent, people just messing around with other people, and people trying to carefully shape things in their favor. Forums can be very powerful, but only as long as a strict hand is used in care for them.

I talked about Tabula Rasa on another article, but I'm going to talk about it again. They had very good relations with their player base in how they addressed problems and openly talked about it with them. They didn't cater to underhanded tactics and simply ignored some comments. The friday community updates were extremely enlightening and they showed the direction of the game, what they developers were doing to address current problems, and what their current thoughts are on matters. It was refreshing and I enjoyed reading it a lot as well as playing the game, it made me feel like the developers actually cared about what they were making and what I as a gamer though. Tribes 2 also had such relations with their playerbase and featured continual updates to address problems. Another example of this is Living Legends (which is a mod) feel free to visit their website and look at how they handle their playerbase. As a mod the community is the lifeblood that keeps them going as they don't have money to use and they rely on the communities help.

Something I don't know if the article mention, but you have to look out for is people in the community that start assuming the role and talking like they speak for the developers. These types of people are very bad and can affect whatever is being developed in a very bad way as they also usually operate on personal interest only. They kill off any sort of different ideology or ideas that differ from their own (and their perceived views that represent the developers with their own ideas mixed in to skew things) so all you end up seeing in the end is what they want you to. There is at least one or two of these in every community I visit, mod or game. There is usually only one because they scare off anyone else that tries to act like them. WoW has a few since it is so big that you can hide in different parts of the forums and no one will ever see you.

I experienced this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774434)

I wrote an application for a given mobile platform and put it on that platform's store. I put a good number of hours into the thing, really felt it was more polished than some of its competitors, and despite having paid a fee to get it listed, charged $0.

Well, no good deed goes unpunished. I got a lot of weird and unactionable criticism. Even for stuff I couldn't really control. Some reviewers might as well write, "I hate this app because it doesn't tell me given a Turing machine M and an input x whether or not M(x) will halt or run forever. 1 star."

I can't say it was all that bad, but man, it was a lot of noise.

Depends on how you're wired.. (1)

El Jynx (548908) | about 4 years ago | (#34774480)

Some people can happily read through a list and pick out the ideas whilst laughing at the insults and caustic trolling, others get frustrated by content and end up dejected. If you're the latter type, you're probably best outsourcing it or leaving it be. But there's much to be said for communicating with your community, and as long as you remember that for every IQ 120 there's an IQ 80 out there - all, unfortunately, still allowed behind a computer - then it becomes easier to shrug it off. Besides, it's YOUR project. If they don't like it they can write their own and some people are just fashionably frustrated.

Every day is full of noise (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | about 4 years ago | (#34774574)

All things in moderation. Avoiding what your fans have to say is no better an idea than trying to satisfy their every whim.

I thought all good developers knew that.

Counterpoint: Dwarf fortress (3, Informative)

qvatch (576224) | about 4 years ago | (#34774596)

Case in counterpoint, Dwarf Fortress and it's most active forum frequented and responded to by the game creator. He answers questions, takes (in an ineffable manner) suggestions, and otherwise participates in the enjoyment of his game. Example: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=60554.msg1848408#msg1848408 [bay12forums.com] Dwarf fortress: http://df.magmawiki.com/index.php/Dwarf_Fortress:About [magmawiki.com]

Re:Counterpoint: Dwarf fortress (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34775096)

Except that every single person I know who played Dwarf Fortress did it for Fortress Mode, and they did so thinking that all the usability flaws, half-implemented features and bugs would eventually get fixed. And, since everything has been documented on the forums and on the Wiki, Toady must be well aware of all the brokenness. But what happens?
The guy spends all his time feature creeping in stuff that nobody cares about (e.g. worldgen history), while the actual playable bits remain... well... nigh unplayable. Occasionally a new version pops out, with new showstopping bugs and major features still only half implemented.
I only know one person still playing the game now. The rest have all quit, for the same reason: realizing that there is a total disconnect between the developer and the players, so that the stuff they actually care about just won't get fixed within any foreseeable future.

Bioware (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 4 years ago | (#34774704)

Thank DEITY$ Bioware doesn't do this. NWN wouldn't have been half as good if they had ignored the input of their players. The same is probably true for their other games, but NWN sticks out in my head as a game that the devs actually listened to the players for the most part.

I wonder (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#34774734)

Is this perhaps the same reason that politicians NEVER listen to the people they represent? (With the sole exception of lobbyists who show up with large amounts of cash).

Could this... (2)

thomthom (832970) | about 4 years ago | (#34774850)

...be why God never answer prayers?

Re:Could this... (1)

sking (42926) | about 4 years ago | (#34774986)

But he always answers! Sometimes, the answer is "no".

Re:Could this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34775332)

Couldn't you say the exact same thing about devs that never read the forums?

Re:Could this... (1)

sking (42926) | about 4 years ago | (#34775410)

That may be the metaphorical finality: $no_answer == no

Not my experience as a small developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774922)

I've been working for a small graphics software company for about 10-12 years now. We've always been in close contact with our users. I'm one of two developers, we have a support/registrations guy and have recently taken on another support/community outreach guy. We have a wide range of users, from hobbyists to CG studios. In the old days we had a Yahoo group mailing list (or rather whoever it was in the iterations before Yahoo bought it) and more recently we've changed to forums. Our forums have 9700+ users though we have noticed an upspike of spam accounts recently which we're working on removing.

I used to read everything but not so much in the last couple of years. I rely more on the support guy to bring important issues to my attention now. I used to reply to more as well, but we've found users often deal with queries and such more quickly than we can and it's not too often we need to deal with something directly. Back in the day I used to answer a lot of more technical queries but I'm not even in the top 10 forum posters now - happy to say the outreach guy is though!

We've always been very fortunate that our user groups have stayed pretty civilised. Many people have mentioned that they're some of the politest and most helpful they've experienced, that's certainly the case for me! I'm not sure why that is exactly. We have stepped in with a few users and asked them to change their ways and usually that works. We haven't had to ban many people at all.

We certainly use the forums to get an overview of what people think and do use that to make decisions about where to go. In the past we would sometimes solicit design feedback etc. but have stopped doing that so much because it doesn't always help a lot - too many different views. Every once in a while someone will start a "Top 5 most wanted features" thread which is always interesting. I haven't come across any particularly soul destroying feedback. Well, nothing that wasn't deserved ;-).

I wonder if there's a difference between our users and users of something with a wider appeal like a game. Our company name is similar to the name of a game which was popular a few years ago and we would occasionally get the game players straying into our forums. They usually seemed to be more aggressive and communicated less clearly. Frankly I think the fact they had confused our forums with those of the game showed they were already at a disadvantage...


Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34774972)

Every game, every game that has a forum that is ignored, the game ends up being a massive failure, or generally pissing off the players in general.

Developers that read and listen to their fans and what they want, then add that in to the game as options, mutators, or even mods of their own game, they all do really well.

Where did this person learn this, exactly? Stupid Academy?
Sorry, but ignoring your fans is completely retarded in every sense of the word, it ISN'T a hassle, it is barely an hour a day to check almost all updates at the most on even popular forums (several-times moderator here)
If people were passionate about their game, they'd check it.
People who are in it for the money? Why in gods name do you even have a forum?! DELETE IT.
Half the devs who have forums on the ignore list tend to not even listen to bug reports anymore. Or have one guy spend a whole day checking the forum for bug reports on a blue moon, then push updates for it. It is pathetic.

A fantastic example of this: Spore.
Gamers were pretty much ignored on the forums. Feature requests, bug reports very often, all being ignored. (unless it was big and ended up on news)
Instead, what we get is things we DIDN'T want and a watered down game that is embarrassing even for a kid sometimes. Seriously, you can't even explore your home planet at lesser stages, you just end up eaten by the dreaded SEA MONSTER. (not to mention the same planet!)

They killed that game. That game could have been huge (not financially! Hype got them that!), but they killed it because they expected too much of the community.
Not only that, they never even bothered adding a modding API to allow the damned community to actually update it themselves instead of having to depend on the poor people (if even people, probably single person, and only when they have spare time) put on bug duty.
DarkSpore will probably end up failing too, simply because they are failing to put any effort behind it and depending way too much on the community to do everything.
Only popular thing that happens Spore related now is a bunch of 15 year olds roleplaying on The Sporum.
Spore could have been SO much more. Instead, they watered it down and lost so many fans because they tried to cater towards casuals gamers.
CASUALS DON'T GAME ON PC. (they do, but that is Flash games, not full blown games that require installs and dedicated graphics cards to be decent)
You'd think EA and Maxis would have known that, since they are one of the biggest collection of games developers / publishers around.

Wrong. (1)

dskzero (960168) | about 4 years ago | (#34775052)

A good example is Heroes of Newerth. Some games do require input from the players in order to balance, or fix, broken systems. Most MMORPG also fall into this (and generally fail to do so...). Hell most competitive games should get input from the players. Of course, if the creator can't be arsed to hire moderators to keep the flaming and trolls in check, that's an entirely different matter.

Finally! (1)

imamac (1083405) | about 4 years ago | (#34775118)

I finally understand why I never see the mythical blue post!!

So, the answer is pretty simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34775136)

According to the article, the answer is simple, because they can't deal with criticism.

Listen, but don't respond (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 years ago | (#34775246)

I fully believe that there is something to be gained by reading your forums. Not every single post - just the ones that catch your eye, or seem to be highly-read. Sure, there's going to be a lot of crap, but there's plenty of good ideas out there too.

However, there is very little to be gained by responding to your forums. At most, you might say "actually, that does seem like a good idea", or "I already discussed this in a blog article several months ago. It just doesn't work.". Responding to even half of the stupid, short-sighted and ignorant ideas people post would be a massive waste of time, and would probably drive anyone insane.

Maybe never is too strong (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 4 years ago | (#34775250)

but still users can come up with some pretty stupid ideas. I mean in my mind the most classic one was how many players of the Street Fighter games wanted throws completely removed from the game. (Including EGM advocating removal of the throw.) That would have definitely been a stupid decision if Capcom went with it. (What was even more stupid is they didn't seem to have a problem with an unblockable attack that wasn't a throw.)

Alternative hybrid solution (1)

jasper_amsterdam (788332) | about 4 years ago | (#34775258)

If you have a forum with an active community, you can have them do preselection of suggestions and comments, and organize votes among the members related to multiple potential improvements/updates/etc. One game where I've seen this work very well is a card flash game [elementsthegame.com] (a la Magic the Gathering) called elements; users create their own card ideas, these are submitted to a voting process, and the game creator occasionally checks out a couple of winners and incorporates what he likes.

This article makes no sense (0)

djdevon3 (947872) | about 4 years ago | (#34775370)

If you don't listen to customers who purchase your product that's a recipe for a short business venture. If you don't want to visit your own forums then DON'T HAVE ONE. If you want people to have a place on the web to discuss your ideas, creativity, products, etc... then a fan will create one if your product is good enough. Game developers should have blogs if they don't want to interact with their users. Fan sites go a very long way towards retaining brand loyalty. If you don't listen to your biggest fans then you'll lose them and all the loyalty they've worked hard to create FOR YOU. Which in that case, would make you an unappreciative a**hole. People don't have to buy your product or reiterations of it. If you take your users for granted you'll lose them and your business.

It's called a moderator. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 years ago | (#34775416)

The reason people post vitriol on forums is due to the fact that it is allowed. All forums should have clear strict rules about profanity, personal attacks, non-constructive criticism, etc. If forums were moderated and any time a flame was posted the user was warned that they could be banned then maybe less flames would be posted. The warnings must be followed through. You will probably find that most of the issues are being caused by a very few people.

There are compromise positions between 'read everything' and "read nothing"; one could read the moderated forum or have someone forward only the interesting posts.

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