Once again, I’ve discovered yet another example of just how example of just how much I still don’t know about this game. After doing some missions in Fracture, I decided to head over to Picus Ridge to do some stuff for the Techs. As I discovered when I arrived, if you do too much work for one allied faction, you risk pissing off your other (former) allies. As I approached Picus Ridge, the guards started shooting, much to my surprise. When I checked my faction wheel I noticed that my faction rating with the CHOTA was over double what it was with the Techs, which had turned from green to red. Not a good thing, but also something I’ll deal with a little later. Right now, I’m doing other things.
I went back down to Sector 1 to re-enable fast travel at Watchtower. That’s a very useful station for me and I want to have it available. Since I was in the area anyway, I decided to check out Trailer Park for the first time and add that pod to my fast travel list as well, leaving only Spider Hill as the sole Sector 1 fast travel location I haven’t enabled yet. I did a few minor missions while I was there and at the local gas station I took a rally mission which took me back into Sector 2 to Sunshine Corners.
Since was there anyway, I decided to do some missions up there and that’s where I am now. I’m planning to head over to Thorne’s Bluff when I’m done in Sunshine Corners to add that pod to my fast travel list and then I expect I’ll hit some more neutral Sector 2 towns.
I rode my Spiked Chopper for while when I first got it, but I got a pretty rude awakening when I was killed doing a mission and had to tow it back to the gas station near the pod I materialized at. The cost of the tow was literally 100 times what it would have cost for my self-crafted motorcycle and 200 times what it would have cost for my ATV. Sure it’s a higher class vehicle but still…100 times the price? Seems a bit much to me. As a result, I’ve now parked that beast and will save it for combat situations as I just don’t have the chips to pay to have the thing towed every time I get killed. It’s back to my standard motorcycle for just getting around.
In my previous post I said that it seemed that Fallen Earth’s servers had stabilized. Perhaps I spoke a bit too soon. It’s still a question every time I attempt to log on whether or not I’ll actually be able to. Nevertheless, something happened the other day which reminded me of one of the reason why I enjoy playing Fallen Earth that really doesn’t have anything to do with the actual game itself.
Last night around 7:30 eastern Fallen Earth forum community manager Tiggs posted a lengthy description of all the work and long hours put in by the Fallen Earth tech team to fix the problems and get the servers back up. It reminded me of one of the reasons I was attracted to this game back at the beginning outside of the game itself. Simply put, the people making this game actually give a shit. That is, unlike in so many other games there’s a real feeling of community on this forum, not the kind of often adversarial relationships so many dev teams seem to have with their game’s players.
For me, this matters, though obviously not as much as the game itself. When I was playing Crimecraft, it seemed to me that the dev team was far more interested in protecting the company which created and owns the game from any negative opinions expressed by the players than in actually addressing valid concerns and making the experience as positive as possible. Their attitude seems to be that since Crimecraft is a free-to-play game, the players had no right to complain if things weren’t working properly.
I was involved in creating a group blog for Crimecraft in part as a way for players to express themselves in a forum away from the extremely restricted and heavily moderated official forums. Because we allowed a former player to post a negative, dissenting opinion about the way he was treated and eventually banned from the game (which, I might add, as Editor-In-Chief I challenged him on certain aspects of in the comments because I felt he was being unfair to the company), our blog, Sunrise City Times, was banned from being promoted on the official forums by the community manager there, solely because he didn’t like what this player had to say and that we were letting him say it on our blog.
After a little while, I’d decided I’d just had enough and even though I did enjoy the game, I logged in less and less until I lost a character I’d invested a lot of time and effort in creating, apparently due to some sort of server glitch. Once that happened, I pretty much just stopped logging into Crimecraft altogether. Soon afterward, I got an email from Fallen Earth inviting me back for 7 free days…and, well, you can read the rest of that story right here on this blog in the posts preceding this one.
The truth is that in the end it’s always going to be the game itself which determines whether that game is a success or a failure, but another truth is that while a quality dev team which really does care about its players can’t make most players keep playing a lousy game, it most certainly can make a player base that does enjoy a great game even more fiercely loyal to it and inspired to find ways to promote and celebrate it, such as, for example, writing a blog about it.
Players certainly were frustrated about the repeated server crashes and other issues just after the free-to-play launch and frankly, they had a right to be. Many had waited a long time to play and they were anxious to get to it. In my opinion, some players were over-the-top nasty and disparaging in their complaints, but one of the most frequent concerns was something I felt had great credibility, a lack of communication between the dev team and the players about what was going on and when it would be resolved.
As time went on, I noticed an increase in the number of posts from devs letting players know that they were working on the issues and estimated server uptimes when they were available, capped off at the end of the worst of it by Tiggs’ long post. That post was an inspired and brilliant move by Tiggs because it not only let players know just how hard the devs were working to set things right, but also had the much-needed effect of turning a rather cranky and annoyed group of players into appreciative and positive loyalists. In short, Fallen Earth’s community manager turned what could have been a major problem and massive player outrage into a reason to come together and knit into an even tighter-knit gaming community that shared a feeling that we’re all in this together as lovers of this game. You just can’t ask for better than that.
Now that things seem to have calmed down, the servers (currently) seem to have stabilized, and players are back doing what we love best, playing the game, it’s my hope that the Fallen Earth and G1 devs will take a cue from this experience and keep the community well-informed when there’s a need. As a writer myself, I know that it probably took Tiggs quite a while to write that post, time that she probably could and should have spent doing other things. And yet, there’s probably not one single thing the dev team could have done at that moment that would have been more effective to chase away the black clouds of negativity and frustration that were filling the forum. I hope this is an indicator of what we’ll see going forward, because if it is I think it’ll pay off quite nicely in terms of player loyalty and support.
As someone with a fair share of experience as a community manager myself, I can say wholeheartedly that this, my friends, is the way it should be done. Nice job, folks.
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