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Milk, Bones, & Muscles - A Sincere Letter to the Devs

I wouldn’t say it’s as simple as ignoring death threats, but there are certainly ways to go about community interaction which do not result in halting all non-necessary communication. I think it’s unfair for us to assume we know exactly the situation the devs are in, but I do think it’s fair to invite them into a conversation about how to help better the community and the game itself, taking points from both sides.

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if it’s possible, please advertise this game on social media once you fix the issue you have with your communication and official forum. make it a more welcoming place for new players.

100% on this too

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The OP is written as if you think the excessive milking is an unintentional error in judgement or a mistake of some kind, rather than being strategic. To continue your metaphor, what do you think a farmer does once they’ve decided they no longer want to be in the milk business long term?

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A delicate question is; How many of the weaker decisions have had a strategic purpose for the team?

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The are set on not caring anymore, because there is still a community of passionate players who keep trying to help other fellow players too. @Tacet still does his videos, just to mention one of the old vanguard.

Salty does her stream, but as passionate and she can be she is still paid to do that. And her stance for minimal communication is again what she is required to do and nothing else. Can I blame her for that? Not at all.

The game direction is set on path that they can’t even fabricate excuses for what they are doing, so the silence is the best they can do and they will still find people who will crusade for their “cause”.

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I realize that I’m being overly optimistic/naive here but, what if we strive for a middle ground (which is what I think the OP was aiming for). Some way to open up the back and forth between the player base and the Dev team.

We’ve been told what can’t be done, what won’t be done, etc. But what can be done? And when done, what can be expected?

As a programmer/developer, I know the nightmare that is creating a product and having the client change their mind, or complain about something that wasn’t in scope, or simply be impossible to please. Point is, feedback is useful but it can grow toxic. Also, just because people work on Gems of War, doesn’t mean that’s all their doing or what they’re being told to prioritize.

So my question to Salty (or any other official member of the GoW team) is:

  • Determine feedback “template”: while we know our feedback is heard/read, how can we improve said feedback so that it becomes more actionable? (I’m not asking for a way to get all feedback to be implemented, but how to give it in such a way that makes it easier for the GoW team to assess its worth and priority)
    • Is feedback at all useful in forums? (If so, forum users who have feedback but can’t participate in the stream might start specific threads with questions that others could ask during the stream)
    • Should we write long detailed posts explaining the what, how and why or short and concise, breaking each request into a new thread?
  • Mitigate our expectations: let us know what to expect from communication.
    • How many people patrol the forums? (Knowing that, we can get a sense of how quickly we could expect a response. I think Salty said it’s mostly her lately.)
    • Has the dev team been reduced or has higher management indicated reducing GoW priority?
    • Please let us know when something is being addressed or worked on. That is already done with the Reported/Fixed/Investigating/Not a Bug tags, but the Pet Gnome is arena ninja fix could’ve received the same treatment. We don’t really care if it was a higher management decision or a late night oops, just that something is/isn’t being done about it and that we are made aware of that.
  • What can you tell us about upcoming developments and where would we find it: I believe this has also been addressed by Salty earlier in this thread, but adding to this list anyway.
    • Will there still be beta tests? If so, should we expect any unanimous feedback to be addressed before release or would we at most have to hope it’s patched at a later time?
    • Are streams the best place to see new content/game modes?
    • Finally, while we can’t have the “roadmaps” that others have asked for, is there something we can have? I.e. what can be revealed to us about short or long-term directions the game might be heading.

As I said, I’m optimistic we’ll get these answers. Just like I’m optimistic that financial greed won’t run this game into the ground. More monetization and microtransactions are “fine”, as long as they are released with a quality of life, or “bones & muscle” improvement.

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Lack of communication has been a constant complaint in these forums for as long as I’ve been playing (nearly 4 years now). Just as an example:

I wish you get the answers you seek but I would be surprised if it happens at this point, to be honest. I would love for the community’s feedback to be given more consideration, as I strongly believe that a few simple changes could make GoW much more enjoyable… but I’ve accepted that, while our feedback is collected and passed on, the dev team’s priorities are not our own and never will be.

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Well said! In addition to these thoughts, I’d love for @AMT 's idea regarding well-known community members to be put in a position where they can act as mediators between devs and players to be more fleshed out and brought into conversation with the devs.

There are currently 35 likes on the original post of this thread. Those aren’t small numbers here, especially considering how long this thread has been open. That shows me there are a lot of people who care deeply about this, and I really hope we can continue to have conversation here and brainstorm some ideas with @Saltypatra and the team.

While it’s great and all that the devs feel comfortable with this, the truth of the matter is that the playerbase by and large does not, and several great suggestions have been brought up here. Making the community feel listened to and appreciated is a massive deal, especially on forums. I didn’t put a poll on this thread regarding whether we feel listened to and appreciated or not because I figured it would increase toxic/negative responses, and I believe all of us, devs included, know what the results of such a poll would reveal.


EDIT:

Regarding AMT’s idea and fleshing it out - if we can really work on that concept and give it some structure and solid planning, I think that would be a great option to present to the devs.

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The best part of GoW is the community. It already fills in a lot of the gaps the dev team doesn’t have time for.

@Lyrian and others often transcribe Salty’s streams.

@hawx and others help outline the weekly campaign tasks.

@cyberkiwi and others help translate the convoluted weekly event scoring requirements for guild participation.

So many others, too numerous to mention, help in other ways…Delve teams, New Player guides, etc.

I think some of the main issues is that frustration builds when what seem like simple fixes take years to resolve. Part of this is because when some suggests a fix to Doomed Club and Doomed Blade, others will mention “what about EoE”, and then others still add “Warm” for Mang, and then a simple fix to two weapons becomes a massive project.

I feel it is best just to focus on simple things, as complexity isn’t cost effective or time effective. For example, some have suggested that Arena have the Epic troop selected first. That is the simplest fix. Ideally, all troops would be visible for selection, but that is too complex, and therefore will never be done. Stick to simple solutions, and maybe the devs will listen.

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The community is filled with so much negativity that most people stay away from the boards. If you meant the differently guild families communities they are really great in comparasion - depended on the guild you are in.

But these boards is pure depression…gimme some air…

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When a voice is unheard, it will often shout louder. The negativity is, I believe, a direct result of the devs decision to withdraw from conversations.

I get depressed too reading some of these boards, but I try my best to see the good in the rants.

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Yeah, the negativity on these boards doesnt affect me either, if it did I wouldnt come here. It is kinda like Silent Hill here. People is hoping for changes that will never arrive.

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This is already in the latest update coming out. Along with a reroll at the end in case you want to change the selected team.

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Hi everyone,

Thank you for the kind words. They are much appreciated.

For the sake of making this thread a more well-rounded conversation, I think I will offer my own personal thoughts and questions on the situation as someone who follows Salty regularly on her streams.

I will start with this quote, as this is a true statement. Salty does speak more freely on streams than she does on the forums. Many of my personal comments that will follow are based on interpretations on insights into the design process that she has provided on various streams.

Salty does also collect feedback on the streams and sometimes discusses potential proposals that she wants to present to them for possible implementation (they do not always get approved, though).

This line here is what causes most proposals to be non-starters in terms of being actionable. More often than not, what players ask for are directly opposing to the devs’ priorities regarding the game. In those situations, the devs’ priorities will always win. In all likelihood, I would estimate at least 90% of all proposals posted to the forums will never get off the starting blocks because of this conflict of interests.

In the pre-Covid days, there were once a quarter dev Q&A streams where such roadmaps were broadly provided. 2020 has been… well… 2020, so the cancellation of these streams because of social distancing mandates are not unexpected nor abnormal at all.

On past Q&A streams and on Salty’s weekly streams, she has stated that when new game functionality is developed, that they have been built with the foundational concept to be designed for long-term scalability and functionality. What does that mean? A great example are the retired Rain Boss and Invasion events. These days, for a late to end-game account, how easy is it to steamroll those events because of power creep? These event types were not designed well for scaling content (Raid Boss relies almost purely on Zuul insta-kill for “difficulty”), while Invasions cap at only level 144 (not difficult at all with current-day stat creep). World events are a redesign that allows weekly events to scale with the game’s power creep and still be relevant in terms of difficulty in the future without having to design a whole new mode in the future to replace world events. Also, world events are modular, which allows the devs to adjust various feature of the event (scoring, troop type, etc.) that enables them to adjust gameplay to whatever needs are warranted at the moment. The older modes lacked this flexibility.

Looking forward, I would agree that there is not a ton that truly needs to be said about a roadmap. On pure speculation, there was the rumor of the treasure map mode revamp mode that is still out there. Personally, if such a revamp were to happen, it would surely be something along the lines of the mechanics of Epic Vault Keys, with requiring Epic Treasure Maps to access the new treasure vault. I cannot see any real way for them to rework the original treasure map mode with the bajillion treasure maps that are already in the game. Salty has also alluded to this conclusion multiple times on her streams.

Then there’s the extremely long-standing rumor of the third map, as quipped by Sirrian an eternity ago on a past dev Q&A stream. Yes, the second map could be filled as soon as mid-late 2021, but there is no reason why the third map has to come in 2021. The devs could very easily introduce a new mechanic that would extend the time needed for an additional map to be required into 2022 (Warbands?).

On the topic of monetization, I agree with you regarding feedback from the devs to the players. On past streams, Salty has repeatedly said that the updates have to recoup development costs on their own and that most, if not all, updates will require some form of monetized content to be published. For a game that has been live for 6 years + initial development time, this behavior is normal and expected. The game has to sink or swim on its own merits at this point in its lifetime.

And while I’m on the topic of financials at the moment,

I understand the perspective you are trying to present with these statements. However, your post might be unintentionally misleading to readers. Gross income is a measurement of monies generated before any expenses needed to generate those monies are considered. A company could have fantastic gross income numbers, but still be losing money every day.

By itself, gross income, without any additional context lacks sufficient meaning regarding the financial operations of a company. On a hunch, I did some digging and found the source document from which you are citing the 34% number. After additional review and looking at the remainder of the income statement, Gems of War, Q3 year-over-year, has done quite well. Impressively so for a six-year old game-as-a-service. I am not necessarily sold the entirety of the revenue increase is solely because of the campaign pass, but I would generally agree that it seems plausible that a majority of the gross income gain would be a result of that.

That said, I cannot find support for the claim that the game earned €4 million gross income last year. There is not a breakout of Gems of War’s revenues on the full-year consolidated income statement. Can you point me in the right direction on this?

However, is that result necessarily bad though? On one hand, I can see an argument regarding increasing revenues. On the other hand, would that not mean that the game’s continuing financial success is a reason to warrant future investment in the game by the publisher?


Ok, this post is becoming way too long, so let me end this post with some thoughts on the communications proposal as my brain is already fizzling out and be a bit more informal.

Regarding AMT’s proposal…

I think the proposal of what my role in this scenario is what Salty’s role towards the community already is right now? If Salty relays information to me to tell the community, then why can she not inform the community herself about these matters? Not trying to shoot this proposal down, but I think this proposed solution feels like a roundabout solution to an issue that could be more effectively addressed at the source?

For example, why would I be needed to inform the community about not receiving an answer to a question, when Salty could just state that it is a matter of company policy not discuss that matter publicly?

Would it be better to a pinned post regarding current issues or answers to frequently asked questions to the top of the forum? And to play the other side on this, what would stop that post/thread from being the next inquisition-against-the-devs thread?

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This is a great example highlighting the current communication issue.

The pet gnome missing in arena issue was interesting. The players reported it, the devs said there are pet gnomes, the community went ???, then there was a ninja fix to put pet gnomes back in the arena. Devs never mentioned a fix or admitted it was broken.

That is called gaslighting.

Mistakes happen. It is fine. Communication helps. Surprise fixes are awesome, but mention it. I imagine if there was a thread on the pet gnome ninja fix most of us would have been, "Yesssss! Thank you!

Are there people here who will be angry and abusive? Unfortunately, yes. Ban them. Ban their IP. Link game accounts to forums so their game account can be banned too. Have active mods in the forums who can instantly shut down abusive threads. If the abuse reaches death threat level, involve the police.

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Hi Lyrian! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond in such a thought-out manner! You make great points, and I definitely agree it doesn’t appear that GoW is in any way dying out. I also agree that Salty’s position is sort of what AMT’s idea consists of.

I do think, and I don’t mean this unkindly, that you may have missed the point a bit. The devs are doing what seems best to them, absolutely. They are protecting the financial stability of the game, as they should. They haven’t been introducing crazy over-the-top p2w features which SO many gacha-style games rely on.

The point of this thread, however, is the extreme discontent of the community with how communications are handled. From ninja fixes as mentioned in the post above this one, to consistent mistakes in official world event scoring, to radio silence on numerous issues spanning from bug reports to difficulties to suggestions, and a variety of other issues which are mentioned in other threads.

On top of that, the monetization has been just about all we’ve been getting since around 4.7. Yes, there have been some beneficial features added not just for the sake of monetization, absolutely. But it is strikingly clear that not just a focus, but the primary focus of the past many updates have been monetization. As we don’t have any sort of a roadmap (aside from speculations and vague hints only found on streams, which, as stated in prior posts, are much more of a hassle to intake and will not reach nearly as many people).

This leads me back to the original post of the thread - much of the community feels like an unfed, starving cow used more and more for its milk with each patch. It’s not necessarily that the devs are doing a bad job of running the game; your post shows how these decisions can make sense in the business world, although I’ll admit I’ve never seen 6 (looking like it might be 7) x.0 updates in a row largely focusing on monetization. But I do think the communication and interaction desperately needs a makeover, because there are a lot of unhappy people, and while I’m neither anti-dev nor anti-community, I do see that the frustration on both sides is valid.

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Historical trust levels: Mods could say these things, but they don’t, they could admit that a ‘revamp’ is severely lacking, but they don’t… (reasons may be contractual, personal…). A community needs to be able to trust what they are being told, and that element has been eroded over the years via the current mods actions/inactions.

Again, maybe it’s partially contractual: but that is besides the point.

If a Lyrian Mod can be trusted to respectfully say “I asked about Pet Gnomes on Arena and they didn’t want to answer”, suddenly the community feels that their mod is telling it like it is, and Devs may feel more pressured to increase transparency because of this dynamic…

…which is a primary reason why I don’t expect them to be jumping on this model anytime soon (although alternative pseudo-reasons may be provided).
:relaxed: :vulcan_salute:

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I agree that monetization efforts are a bigger slice of the pie than I’d like, but there have been things besides it, too, that I’ve liked having added to the game—the gnome tracker, being the biggest one I can think of.

And as far as the next update — shrines look like they’ll suck. If the rewards can’t be bought with gems, it’s dead-on-arrival content for me. But does that mean the entire update will suck? It depends on whether Warbands are cool; if so, great, the update isn’t a total whiff and, if not, boo. I’ll have to wait for the next one just like when the shop was revamped and I couldn’t be bothered to care (though daily deals for Imperials is cool, though definitely unfair and in need of fixing like the Adventure Board was fixed

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Definitely! There has been more than just monetization, such as pity keys and such. But the fact that with the past 6 x.0 updates, pity keys are “the biggest one [we] can think of” is worrying.

Also, people like Lyrian wouldn’t be liable to contracts and as stated above, could be trusted more. People like her also couldn’t be attacked like the devs, because what she doesn’t know isn’t her fault.

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[quote=“blindnighto, post:26, topic:67594”]

So my question to Salty (or any other official member of the GoW team) is:

  • Determine feedback “template”: while we know our feedback is heard/read, how can we improve said feedback so that it becomes more actionable? (I’m not asking for a way to get all feedback to be implemented, but how to give it in such a way that makes it easier for the GoW team to assess its worth and priority)

Good question, I can’t respond to each piece of individual feedback. We have a huge influx across every social media account. Also, if I do and say I’ve put something forward, the devs (and myself) are attacked if we cannot make it happen in game. This can be for many reasons, from lacking resources, to it unbalancing the game, to different priorites, to publisher decisions.

As such, this becomes a matter much more delicate than others realise. I often get harassed when I say I have put something forward and nothing comes of it. In light of this, how would you all suggest we go about doing this?

Please keep in mind the time it takes. The forums are only a small fraction of my job, and all other social media platforms need to kept in mind, as well as my higher level duties and writing.

  • Is feedback at all useful in forums? (If so, forum users who have feedback but can’t participate in the stream might start specific threads with questions that others could ask during the stream)

Yes, but only when it is not abusive in nature. I receive the ebst feedback on streams hands down, and I find it the best way to get nuanced, smart, informed feedback.

  • Should we write long detailed posts explaining the what, how and why or short and concise, breaking each request into a new thread?

Short and concise. Dot points are key. I have to read thousands upon thousands of words a day, and often condense feedback to be easy and actionable for the devs. If it’s already easy and actionable it is much mroe likely to be passed on.

  • Mitigate our expectations: let us know what to expect from communication.

Responding to bug reports, and occassionally to feedback. We will continue streaming, and when possible I will bring back the Dev Q & A streams.

  • How many people patrol the forums? (Knowing that, we can get a sense of how quickly we could expect a response. I think Salty said it’s mostly her lately.)

Me, and occassionally Kafka. (Lyya too, but it isn’t their job.) Not everything will get a response, it is impossible, I apologise.

  • Has the dev team been reduced or has higher management indicated reducing GoW priority?

We have no reduced the importance of Gems of War. However, this sort of question is incendiary by nature and will rarely, if ever, be commented on.

  • Please let us know when something is being addressed or worked on. That is already done with the Reported/Fixed/Investigating/Not a Bug tags, but the Pet Gnome is arena ninja fix could’ve received the same treatment. We don’t really care if it was a higher management decision or a late night oops, just that something is/isn’t being done about it and that we are made aware of that.

I will do what I can, but please know I cannot reply to every issue or talk about everything being worked on. lots of things are in the works, and I do my best to field bug reports to do this. This is the best place to see. I can’t write up a response to each and every one, but take the time for what I can. (I am very time poor, and am writing this post on a Sunday night past 10 pm.)

  • What can you tell us about upcoming developments and where would we find it: I believe this has also been addressed by Salty earlier in this thread, but adding to this list anyway.

We don’t give firm roadbacks due to things that have happened in the past. I mention ahead of time things on stream, it is the best place to get this information. When possible I will post bits and pieces, but it is something that is largely kept private due to REDACTED.

  • Will there still be beta tests? If so, should we expect any unanimous feedback to be addressed before release or would we at most have to hope it’s patched at a later time?

Yes to beta tests. Not all beta tests can take feedback, as some are purely for bugs, while others we do listen to feedback. it comes down to the scale of the update, and what we wish to use the beta for. Also, sometimes we cannot make changes to the updates planned, and that isn’t always our decision.

  • Are streams the best place to see new content/game modes?

Yes.

  • Finally, while we can’t have the “roadmaps” that others have asked for, is there something we can have? I.e. what can be revealed to us about short or long-term directions the game might be heading.

Where possible I will try to do this, but it comes down to what I am allowed to say. I can’t make any promises, though I would like too. The best bet for this is the watch the dev Q & As that I will be reinstating next year when it is safe to do so.

To cap this off, I know you all want more, but there are many places my hands are tied. The forums are also not my only work priority, though I do my best to collate feedback and champion for you behind the scenes. If it isn’t enough for some of you, I understand. I am sorry if that is the case.

Now, it is my day off and I would like to take part of a game community that isn’t one I run. <3

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