Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Age of Conan - Response to my leaving

I had an interesting response to my post on MMORPG.com about my final leave of Age of Conan. I really appreciate that I had this post by Famine from the AoC forums there, and I wanted to share what he said..

"It's a shame to see you go Openedge. I say this because I do follow your posts and rather enjoy reading your feedback. Which might I say, is almost unknown in a non-official community where most developers don't tend to actually admit they do read your every move in the other gaming forums here.

Speaking on your post though. There are issues that will not be handled tomorrow. It's all apart of creating and maintaining a game. I would not go as far as to say your threads were ignored but instead letting you know that WE know it exists. The time to get to those issues is something we have to deal with daily because there simply is not enough resources to fix everything today and not enough time to do it all by tomorrow.

Now I'm not too sure if you're referring to Testlive patches not fixing the issues you're reporting on the Testlive forums or live but I wouldn't look at those updates (that don't include what you and others have suggested) as being ignored. If there is a bug, we will fix it. We have no gain in not fixing bugs that effect our game. The thing that most forget is like mentioned above, the time it takes and what we need in order to fix it. I know it's cool to assume we are all masters of what we command but we also have to give our developers some freedom to take time and address it. If we don't have time (crucial issues) then we need to get our heads together and fix it like now. But of course in reality that's not something commonly accepted looking on the outside in (your perspective).

Again, I'm only here to help stress how important it is we get things fixed and that you don't feel like you're being ignored. It's a hard job to do because it is a massively multiplayer game. But I will miss your posts for sure and as long as you know that then there is hope you don't feel it was for nothing..."

This is really cool he posted this, but I wonder about a few points made here.

"There are issues that will not be handled tomorrow"

This I understand. But, is an issue that is going on 4-5 months now a standard issue item that just needs to be fixed when fixed? I still continue to pay for the product while this is being fixed as well. Is my monthly fee really being put to good use when I am not serviced like in most industries?
This has been an ongoing concern of mine. If we pay each month to be serviced by a company to play their MMO, should we not expect some type of support..something like working with that customer? If I have a computer problem like say a Dell product, and I paid for a warranty, is the company not responsible to fix it? Why should MMO's get all our cash, and not offer any support?

"Again, I'm only here to help stress how important it is we get things fixed and that you don't feel like you're being ignored"

This is good to know. I mean, I do not expect "Gold" service with a smile. I expect some type of feedback.
An original post on my concern was bumped 3 times before I finally got a "canned" response, and that it was a known issue. 3 times before I even knew it was known...over an almost 2 week period.
Then the thread sat for a month, and was bumped again after I reloaded my OS, and the software. After another week, I bumped it again (with a refraction for mentioning that I thought this company did not want my money), and asking me to clear my prefs folder.
Totally ignoring the "clean install" stuff.
So, you can see how maybe I felt "ignored" even though I am being told I am not being ignored.
(PS: The thread still sits empty after another response asking for an ETA or at least an answer on if they need more data...how can you work on a problem without data? And with a willing subject to boot!!)

I am pleased that Famine made mention that they will be sad to see any customer go. I think what will disappoint me is I will not even know if it is getting fixed or not. Thanks to low responses of the teams working on issues, it becomes a "Is it really being looked into?" or not situation.

Especially after hitting level 70 today and seeing the new zone that just opened for me, I am actually pretty excited to play yet, if I feel like I am being ignored as a customer, should I continue to pay for this?

Anyone have any thoughts? Am I being rash? Should I expect more from the company who runs my MMO? How long would you wait after reporting an issue and posting about it before wondering if the company really cares?


1 comment:

Tesh said...

Having worked in game dev for a few years now, I can attest to the difficulty of fixing everything. For all the in-house testing we do, players will always find problems. More players = more problems.

Thing is, yes, for a company to take money from you monthly, they really should be earning it. I'm not convinced that *any* MMO devs are really earning their keep when it comes to sub fees.

If I feel a game isn't enjoyable because of ignored bugs, I'm leaving, emotional attachments or no. Why keep throwing money into the pit if it's not giving you value for doing so? That's an evaluation everyone will have to make on their own.

I've just preemptively made it by saying I won't pay a sub for a game. They don't offer sufficient value for me to do so.

For a smaller tangent to run, though, the company I work for offers support where we can, though we "just" make XBox Live titles (and a smattering of others). We take feedback from our forums and the Live forums, and address bugs to the best of our ability. Title updates are expensive to us, so we can't slip all the fixes in we'd like, but when we get the green light to make a title update, we go all out and find any bugs we can, relying heavily on player reports as well as our own testing. We can't do it as often as we'd like, but when we can, we get as much in as we can. We love those players who report obscure bugs that we just didn't catch, and we're always happy when they offer precise reproduction steps for how they ran into their glitches.

We're *paying* to do these updates, mind you, hoping that it will pay off with goodwill, brand recognition and networked sales, so we're not just being charitable... but we're working our rears off to get as much fixed as we can because we think that such is the best way to offer fair value. I'd like to think that a dev who is already taking your money on a monthly basis, and can patch much more frequently (and without as much middleman overhead) than us would do a proportionally better job. The reality suggests otherwise, which is unfortunate.