Developer Appreciation (Late)
Over the years I’ve done a few appreciation posts, from community managers to developers – and as my gaming years have rounded out I’ve come to appreciate so much more that it would be absolutely impossible to put it all into a single post so I’m going to go about things a bit different. First, I know that last week (August 18th-24th) was actually the scheduled blaugust DAW but I got my weeks confused and so now I’m trying to make up for it. Appreciation is appreciation, right?
I have always prided myself on being able to criticize a game or aspects of a game while remaining calm and reasonable. I understand that gamers are a passionate bunch, and that passion can be both beneficial and detrimental to the game and the people working on it. I think that developers are (typically) quite open to listening to their audience, even if they can’t actively implement everything everyone wants – but when the audience passes over a certain threshold it becomes more difficult to listen to them, and then we get a group of ‘loud minority’ that seem to take over. I know, I’ve been there.
One of my jobs when I was working for NCSoft was to take the information/reactions from the players every single time there was an update or a change, and compile it into a neat and tidy list for those higher up to read. Every public observation from reddit, facebook, twitter, the forums, gaming sites, I read every comment. I did my best to absorb as much generic information and feedback as I could, and then present it up the line so that they would be able to “see” how people were reacting.
The problem is in a lot of cases, the satisfied are not posting about it at those locations. They’re in game, enjoying the content. It’s such a biased and tiny little percentage of players that the information was always going to be slanted. Everything had to be taken with a grain of salt. Everything had to be debated internally.
There is so.much. that goes on behind the scenes that players never see, and even though you might think that no one is talking about a particular aspect or that no one notices abc thing is broken – trust me, it has been discussed. If a change happens, there’s a reason. Sure, sometimes changes go through that don’t have a lot of insight and may be a bad decision (after all, developers are people too) but that doesn’t mean zero discussion goes on about it. That being said, every games company is different and I can only speak about my own personal experiences.
For this game developer appreciation I want to include EVERYONE who works on video games, in almost any capacity (I’m not so fond of the people at the top, but that’s my bias). You have an oftentimes thankless job. Players change, the world changes, and you’re expected to keep up and change too – and people don’t LIKE change, so there’s always going to be someone out there angry who directs that anger at you. On the plus side, yay, they’re passionate about your game, you helped foster that – on the downside, yikes, they’re passionate because of a video game, and that can sometimes be a scary thing. I tend to keep pretty quiet about game mechanics and issues I have in games these days and focus on the positive because I know just how difficult things can be, and because I know that there are already a bunch of voices out there talking about the negative aspects, so why not be one of the positive ones. Chances are if I can’t say anything positive about your game, then I’m not playing it.
We appreciate you developers! Keep doing what you’re doing.