Core Players

I mentioned my idea for a  WAR Core Player group in an earlier post – this was picked up by Charlotte of Warhammer Alliance and there followed a few Tweets between me, Charlotte and Mykiel.
Charlotte pointed out that a Core Tester group already exists but I’m sure I’m not alone in not knowing who belongs to this group, what their relationship with Mythic is or what exactly they do. Can anyone enlighten me?
Mykiel started in on the conversation but was diverted by real-life in the shape of selling his house.
Then again – Twitter is not exactly the ideal means to carry on a discussion so I thought I’d expand on the idea and throw it open to comment.

The move by Myffic to invite bloggers along to a discussion on the future of WAR was a very good idea but not (in my opinion) very well executed.
There is no reason why Myffic could not continue with this form of consultation by including a group of Core Players. These CPs would pass on information garnered during these sessions to the WAR community and provide feedback to Myffic.
If that is the role of the Core Testers then they seem to be failing in their duty and although the Bioware forum could provide these functions it’s too full of trolls and griefers diverting the topics and filling the threads with crap to be of much use.

I think that what Gaarawarr said in a reply to a comment following his blog about the visit was what set me off thinking about this –
I know for a fact that all four of the people they invited in person have played for over 2 years, most since Launch. I can pretty safely say that while Mykiel and EK seem to play WAR quite a bit and Werit occasoinally, I don’t play it much at all anymore. I log in to see what the Weekend Warfront is and, if it’s not new in some way, I log out.”
http://gaarawarrgabs.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/blaaagher-invasion-2-the-transcript/#comment-35936
He did go on to say –
“I would LOVE to have WAR become, once again, the place where I spend the majority of my gaming time as I’m sure Jalis and Testpig would. However, after having played since Launch, there’s just nothing new to do and killing people in the face gets old when it has zero purpose other than to help you stroke your e-peen.”

The CPs would be invited by Myffic – not through asking for volunteers – based on, for example,  length of service and amount of game time clocked up.
These CPs would then attend regular consultation sessions with Myffic (locally or remotely) maybe with access to a closed forum for ongoing discussions with Devs etc.
I don’t want it too sound like the CPs would evangelise about WAR but, Mork and Gork knows, this game needs some good publicity and if players knew that their concerns were being aired, via the CPs, then maybe a lot of the antagonism would dissipate.
I’m sure that word-of-mouth alone would bring many back to WAR.

Obviously the CPs would be expected to attend a large majority of these meetings and it would be up to Myffic to determine whether any CP is being remiss in his duty and replace them if necessary.
It would also be made very clear at the beginning what information could be disclosed and what would be covered by an NDA.

I feel that WAR has the potential to be a great game but it has been stagnant for too long – as I think Gaarawarr intimates – it’s got boring.

There are a lot of great ideas out there that could do with discussing and coordinating then binning or implementing. There may be many valid reasons why some ideas are just unworkable but as long as they are being considered then maybe the players will feel more positive about a game that they are passionate about.

Then again maybe this is one of those ideas that should be binned – but at least it’ll get discussed.

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About Fez

Warhammer, VMax, Fortean Times, Prog Metal, Guinness
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7 Responses to Core Players

  1. Charlotte says:

    I recall a blog post a while ago that detailed what exactly Core Testers do, but I’m on my phone in a laundry room so I’ll try to find it later.

    You say you want Core Players to provide feedback to the devs and info to the community. While a small group, the bloggers did just that and Core Testers have done so as well.

    Also, you mentioned wanting Core Players to have regular sessions with devs and have access to a closed forum of sorts to discuss. According to Bruglir’s blog, this already happens and there is a Core Tester IRC channel used for communication.

    I agree with you that I wish there was more open communication between players and devs. However, it looks to me that what you’re proposing is already being accomplished in varying degrees by bloggers, Core Testers, and developer discussions.

    • Fez says:

      Could you pass me the link about Core Testers if you find it please?

      I hope my post didn’t come over as a demand – it’s merely a suggestion to improve the relationship and communications between Mythic and the players.
      My first response is – who are the Core Testers and what is their role?
      The bloggers provided info to the community but it wasn’t a two way exchange from the community to Mythic.
      If the Core Testers have done that too – I don’t think the community is aware of it.

      The CTs need a closed channel to Mythic – I’m just suggesting that the CPs could use one too.

      The more open communications via the bloggers is a very recent move that could do with continuing and improving on.
      The community is not aware of communication between Mythic and the CTs and I’m not aware of the CTs asking for input.
      The Dev Discussions are merely discussions between a very small minority of players who use the forum – the devs provide very little input once the thread has been opened.

      What it boils down to is that communications between Mythic and their playerbase needs improving – the recent bloggers meeting was a step forward but could be improved upon – I’m not suggesting replacing the CTs rather supplementing them.

      • Gaarawarr says:

        “The more open communications via the bloggers is a very recent move that could do with continuing and improving on.”

        It’s actually not a recent move. This is the second year in a row that bloggers have been invited to the studio to see what was coming and spread the word to others in the community.

        As for the Dev Discussions being open to the small minority of players that use the forums…well, it’s open to ALL players that want to read it. The people that are interested in giving feedback and interacting with the Devs tend to be on the forums… Really not sure where you’re trying to go with that.

        And finally, supplementing the CT program? I don’t really feel like it needs it. It is what it is. There truly is no need for a player-based group coordinated by the Devs to release information about the game. That’s what the Devs are for. Things like what just happened are the one-in-a-while kind of things that are for bigger things the studio is doing and not the things that fall into the regular Patch cycle. That stuff is handled by the Community Team and the Devs in charge, as it should be. Adding another layer of complexity to the issue would just make it all harder to understand as opposed to clarifying anything.

        Of course, that’s just my opinion. However, I have been in something similar to the position you’re talking about for over 2 years now and my opinion is based on what I’ve seen in terms of how the players have traditionally responded to the Core Tester program.

      • Fez says:

        As for the forums – I would suggest only a very small minority of players use the forums and maybe Mythic should look at alternative methods of reaching out to the wider playbase.
        There are players out there who don’t want to be CTs but would gladly give their time to promote the game – Why not encourage them? – It certainly doesn’t have to be a complex arrangement.

  2. Gaarawarr says:

    As Charlotte points out, there is a Core Tester program and there is a lot the Core Testers have done already. For the record, Mykiel, Werit and myself are all in the Core Tester program. In fact, our blogging and involvement in the overall community was what got us invited to the program in the first place. The CT program is made of up a combination of people who were selected by the Devs based on their community involvement and the way they give feedback on the forums as well as people who applied during certain “open calls” to grow the program. At last count, the Core Tester program was rather good-sized, although I don’t know how many there are currently as it is in the midst of a bit of a re-imagining for various reasons, which I’ll outline quickly.

    First, a lot of what we used to do as CTs was read hypothetical posts made by the Devs and give our feedback inside private forums. Due to the varying nature of each type of CT in the program, this often lead to rather heated debates as, despite popular belief, we do not all like the same things and we sure don’t all like the changes that get proposed. Currently, James Casey makes those posts to the entire WAR community in the way of his Dev Discussion posts and this type of debate happens openly in front of everyone which has helped to eliminate a lot of the criticism the CT program was getting in terms of what type of feedback we might be giving the Devs.

    Second, when we actually did play-tests and gave feedback it was usually centered around PvE where a small group of testers works best. We play-tested and bug-hunted for endless hours for things like the Land of the Dead and The Wild Hunt’s dungeon before that Live Event originally hit live. We also play-tested some of the changes made to the original City Sieges before their current incarnation. However, the current state of WAR is such that the things being added to the game are focused around large-scale RvR which a small group of testers is not suited for. As such, play-tests have been open to all on the PTS, with the more the merrier as it helps to better get an image of what might happen on Live servers. Overall, this current format of testing appears to be much more suited with the direction WAR has been going in for the past year or so.

    Finally, the CT program was under the direction of the Community Team, which has seen a bit of an upheaval since the last time there was major content to test (The Verminous Horde packs). The current Community Team has had their hands full just trying to maintain some kind of communication flow with all three MMOs they handle, let alone run the CT program. This kind of coincides with the appearance of the Dev Discussion posts, which obviously switched some of the overall feedback focus from the CTs to the overall WAR community. Again, not necessarily a bad thing.

    Now you know a bit more about the current program. Despite this being long already, I’m going to address a couple of your comments from the basis of someone who has been in said program for a couple years now.

    “These CPs would pass on information garnered during these sessions to the WAR community and provide feedback to Myffic.”

    The type of play-sessions the CT program was part of were “alpha” versions of content. (Which means very buggy and, at times, unfinished.) As a general rule, if something is ready for public consumption in terms of play-ability and feedback, it goes on the PTS and everyone is invited to play it. So while the CTs do give feedback like you’re asking for, passing on information to the community would be a bit problematic as we’d be talking about things that aren’t even finished yet and that’s just not our place. And, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be.

    “based on, for example, length of service and amount of game time clocked up.”

    We’re going to disagree mightily here. There is no way a program that gives feedback on the state of the game and the content that is being added should be made up of people who have been playing the longest or the most. The program should be representational of all aspects of the community, from new players to old, so that the best possible feedback can be gained. Granted, currently I don’t think it does that, however there are a lot of us that “put on our noob hats” and do our very best to look at how this will affect someone just starting out. Mykiel does a good job of this, imo, due to the fact that he is constantly deleting and re-rolling characters and playing them through the lower Tiers again and again. That image of how changes affect lower Tiers and not just Tier 4 is vital to the long-term health of the game because new players will always be needed to fill the spots of the people who don’t play anymore. And there will always be people who leave, regardless of how good a game is, so you have to take that into consideration.

    As to the NDA…there have always been things that can’t be discussed and there always will be. In this case, what we signed and agreed to was more of a “News Embargo” than an NDA about things we can never discuss. This is a very common thing, not just in the entertainment industry, but in business in general. The only difference being, usually people like us aren’t the ones being told the new information. In our case, we’re gamers first, bloggers second. We got excited about a game we’ve played for a long time having something new in the works and we wanted everyone to know. Because of us, people got all pissed off. It sucks that we caused that, but there really isn’t much we can do about it now except say “Our bad.”

    @Charlotte – Yes, currently all player-Dev communications are handled on the forums via Dev Discussions. Honestly, that’s pretty much exactly how it went in private forums so the community is getting almost the exact experience we got in private forums. Not as elitist as people thought, huh? hehe

    • Fez says:

      Thanks for taking the time to respond Gaarawarr and clearing a few things up.
      I’ll respond to each paragraph in turn.

      I remember Kai asking for CT volunteers in the forum but then said the the recruitment was on hold but didn’t go into detail.
      In a response to a comment on your blog you mentioned “I can pretty safely say that while Mykiel and EK seem to play WAR quite a bit and Werit occasoinally, I don’t play it much at all anymore” – is the CT group gradually dwindling/losing interest? If so why do you think that might be?

      It was good to see James Casey starting the Dev Discussion threads and opening out to the community.

      I see what you mean about the difference between PvE and RvR testing – does that mean the CT days are numbered?

      I’m not suggesting that the CPs report on play testing – that would still be for the CTs – but that the CPs take some of the burden off Kai’s shoulders and communicate what is going on inside WAR; as you say he is trying to run three MMOs at the moment.

      I agree that length of service etc. would be too limiting – it was just an example. They’d need to include players from all countries and all levels and style of play to get a good representation.

      I’ve no problem with the NDAs but I feel that the community have a problem with constantly being told that there’s something new coming up but we can’t tell you what it is. Better to not say anything at all.

      Anyhow – I feel that Mythic would make a great deal of difference to the game and the playerbase if they were to communicate a little more often and more effectively and this was just one suggestion.
      As I said to Charlotte – I’m not suggesting replacing the CTs just supplementing them.

      • Gaarawarr says:

        ” is the CT group gradually dwindling/losing interest? If so why do you think that might be?”

        The CT group always changes, little by little, over time. It has to do with the nature of the program. When there’s heavy testing, you can burn out. Sometimes, people just decide they’re moving on to a different game, as with any portion of the player-base. That’s actually why I think it’s a pretty fair representation of the actual player-base since it behaves, more or less, the same.

        As for “taking the burden off Kai’s shoulders”…it’s his job. Period. Trying to manage a group of players in such a way that they then can present information about the game to the community is adding a whole other layer of complexity, not to mention more work, to what the Community Team already does. Frankly, if Kai is overburdened, it’s BioWare-Mythic’s job to hire people to assist him, not the player’s job to pick up the slack.

        Currently people from various countries are in the CT program. Just about everything you’ve suggested is already in place.

        In regards to “not saying anything at all”…there’s a fine line a studio walks between talking about everything they’re working on and only talking about what is going to end up in the game. Both sides of the see-saw garner huge complaints from the community. At some point, they have to accept a certain level of complaints while trying to do a balancing act between the two. Recently, I think they stepped into the “not talking enough” side a little too far and I think they feel that way too. Now they’re working on getting back into balance again, but I don’t expect it too happen overnight.

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