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Discussion: Avoid forums becoming obsolete

35 posts in this topic

S! WWII Online Community Members, I want to take this opportunity to address something heavy and related to the very core of our gaming community. It has been bothering me for a while, and it's now time to have a round table discussion. Hear me out for a moment.

I hate to say it, but from my perspective, the forums are on the pathway to becoming obsolete. At one point this was the single greatest place for all of us to come together to discuss the game and its future, it was a primary communications hub and I just don't feel that anymore. It is disappointing, but it might be something we can correct.

There are a few things that come to mind as to why that is, and it's going to be a bit blunt, but I think we need to be direct in trying to solve this problem - if there's still time to do so.

The first major problem is: NEGATIVITY

It seems like the forums have turned into a soapbox where all of the latest complaints go. While that is to be expected to some degree, it is not supposed to be that exclusively.

Second major problem is: MINIMAL-NO PROACTIVE DIALOGUE

While CRS is actively pursuing solutions to the known problems of the game and reporting on that through our home page announcements, we're not seeing a high degree of proactive dialogue underway. CRS has never been more transparent in communicating with folks, but there's an obvious disconnect from my position, and that my team is primarily responding to problems rather than talking with you about great things coming.

We have a team full of problem solvers who want to do well, I'm not throwing them (or anyone) under the bus. But somehow, the normalcy of these forums has turned into a fire fighting job rather than creating a great out of game experience. I think everyone is responsible for that, and it happens when we realize that we're all here because we love the game and have the best intentions to see that go forward.

The third major problem is: TOTAL LACK OF RESPECT TO PEERS

I think everyone is guilty of losing their cool at some point (raises hand), but there is a massive lack of respect, followed by a total over-reaction if you step out of line (as in attack another community member, staff member, or some other TOS violation).

The fourth major problem is: WE'VE ALL BEEN HERE AWHILE

Kind of like in a marriage, it's important to be working at it with good intentions 110% of the time otherwise things can degrade. We are blessed to have so many people who have been part of our game stick around and actively contribute and stay subscribed ~ seriously, it's awesome.

But in some cases, this has turned into a chip on the shoulder and a right of passage to go full-tilt on rage against fellow members of our community. And to further that, the software and rage against CRS. This makes community members less likely to participate in the forums because it creates a hostile environment, and removes the incentive for our Community Managers to engage because there's a bit of being gun-shy. Yes, they're people too and while they have signed up to help support the community, they didn't get signed up to be treated like trash and it makes them less likely to engage.

So I ask you, how do we keep the forums from becoming obsolete?

We're on that path now, I can see it. Our Facebook group has a whole different atmosphere to it and our fans are having a great time with it. The hostility doesn't exist and everyone is more engaged.

Where do you stand, what can we do? I genuinely want for this place to be valuable, like it was for everyone, and I want the tone to go from hostile arguing and constant complaints to people having a safe place to be part of our community in a positive way (you know like discussing how to make the game better and helping each other).

WWII Online is the best gaming community I've ever been apart of and I want our core to be preserved and improved. These forums are very much connected to that core and it pains me to see its current state.

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13 minutes ago, XOOM said:

S! WWII Online Community Members, I want to take this opportunity to address something heavy and related to the very core of our gaming community. It has been bothering me for a while, and it's now time to have a round table discussion. Hear me out for a moment.

I hate to say it, but from my perspective, the forums are on the pathway to becoming obsolete.

WTF? After I chill - might need a drink or two - I will read the rest of this post. But let me be blunt and say that. No matter what follows in the rest, the shock is too great to bare.  The fora were and always will be the best way to get the pulse of the game. A healthy fora means a healthy game. Also, how else are you all going to get a sense of what the community wants, if not through discussions in the forums? Oh, you say, via the RAT Chat? No... those are too constraining in so many ways I won't even start talking about. 
Ok rant over, now I go read the rest of your post. But I don't have much hope...

Edit: Now that I read your post I understand a bit more where you are coming from. There are four different kind of forum uses. 

1. For constructive dialogue. I won't dig, but you all know that there are A TON of threads where the path of the game has been discussed, and PB input was essential. Which is great.

2. For banter, and teasing your enemies. This is GOOD! This kind of healthy competition is actually very good for any game. You want that.

3. For raising issues that can be addressed by the RATS or asking pertinent questions regarding the state of the game or future plans. Again threads like this  are plenty. And again, this is an essential part of the fora.

5. For [censored]ing endlessly about the same ol same ol side bias bs, for being always negative, for being a [censored]... Now that is the nature of the internetz, and unfortunately some of the PB will fall into this category. However, if this is the price I have to pay to have 1-4 (which in my view are essential!) then so be it. I can always filter the noise. 

!S 

P.S. @XOOM there is a thread in the hangar about ammo you might please chk. The PB needs your (or another qualified RATS's) input. 

Edited by bogol
Read the entirety of OP
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Ot must remain let the mutants complain over historical ammo/angles of engagements/armor thickness/bias blah blah blah...ot must be the beacon no matter what happens....seriously negativity has been constant since i been playing and it will always be constant and 99% of it is not as serious as it looks its just ball breaking....i dont know of any person ingame that has unsubbed over forums posts it is always game/gameplay related which is not the forums fault...these forums hold alot of memories including those not with is anymore while social media posts can disappear a day after without people even seeing it....i vote to keep em

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2 minutes ago, Jsilec said:

Ot must remain let the mutants complain over historical ammo/angles of engagements/armor thickness/bias blah blah blah...ot must be the beacon no matter what happens....seriously negativity has been constant since i been playing and it will always be constant and 99% of it is not as serious as it looks its just ball breaking....i dont know of any person ingame that has unsubbed over forums posts it is always game/gameplay related which is not the forums fault...these forums hold alot of memories including those not with is anymore while social media posts can disappear a day after without people even seeing it....i vote to keep em

The question is not a vote whether to keep the forums or not, the question is what the forums are going to mean for the game, short and long-term. The forums regardless of our historical memories are on the pathway to becoming obsolete. I have tried to start the dialogue in isolating a couple of very high level known issues that most of us should acknowledge quickly and say, Yes those are definitely legit.

The forums don't have the same value they used to, there's a reason for that, and it comes down to the culture and conduct within here. How do we improve on both of those here in these game forums?

The data, not opinion or belief, shows that forum activity is extraordinarily low and that most users are not engaging. WHY? And then, how do we (as a whole community) solve that?

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6 minutes ago, bogol said:

WTF? After I chill - might need a drink or two - I will read the rest of this post. But let me be blunt and say that. No matter what follows in the rest, the shock is too great to bare.  The fora were and always will be the best way to get the pulse of the game. A healthy fora means a healthy game. Also, how else are you all going to get a sense of what the community wants, if not through discussions in the forums? Oh, you say, via the RAT Chat? No... those are too constraining in so many ways I won't even start talking about. 
Ok rant over, now I go read the rest of your post. But I don't have much hope...

The forums indeed hold an important place for listening and understanding what the community wants, but there are some deep-rooted issues at our core that needs solving (in these forums). And I am bringing the elephant in the room to the forefront for review by us all.

The forums are NOT supposed to be a place where players dump their demands and slap each other across the face because someone holds a different point of view. ~ In that light I hope you can better see what I am trying to say. Because it sure looks like, for the most part, that's what has become of it.

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1 minute ago, XOOM said:

The forums indeed hold an important place for listening and understanding what the community wants, but there are some deep-rooted issues at our core that needs solving (in these forums). And I am bringing the elephant in the room to the forefront for review by us all.

The forums are NOT supposed to be a place where players dump their demands and slap each other across the face because someone holds a different point of view. ~ In that light I hope you can better see what I am trying to say. Because it sure looks like, for the most part, that's what has become of it.

Please read my entire EDITED reply. 

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3 minutes ago, bogol said:

Please read my entire EDITED reply. 

I read the points you have made, and they are good points. I am still not convinced, that it is enough to "call it good." We need a reset, in our whole approach in how things work here, and above everything, our mindset, mutually (CRS and the Community).

This place can be a lot more valuable and inviting and productive, how do we do it?

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Forums are needed to discuss issues.

Many important points have been brought up here.

1) What is incorrect. (spawn lists for example)

2) What needs to come next.  (future gear, game mechanics)

3) And ideas for incremental improvement....  such as SPs not being 3 story... town layout... MS being offsides, SD, cap timers,  etc.

 

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35 minutes ago, XOOM said:

This place can be a lot more valuable and inviting and productive, how do we do it?

By place, you mean OT right?

Cause we still talking about the game over here. :)

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I understand that it being a CRS Rep on the forums is probably a lot like running around with a target on your back. and we as players don't always make it easy.  Most of us have a gripe or two and the forums are the only way to address them in a place where they can be heard.  Everyone (who pays attention to the Hangar) knows my gripes, I feel like they are based on fact and I'm sure others feel the same about their pet issues.  The point I'm trying to make is that we need a public place where we know we can reach the ears of CRS.

Edited by halsey
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What's the vet:noob ratio on Facebook, as opposed to here?

How often do noobs become steady posters, or at least lurkers/readers, there as opposed to here?

Do the forums tend to run off the noobs that try to participate here?

It's long been recognized that the game's vets are a gameplay-barrier to customer retention, because gameplay has such a steep learning curve to get good enough to survive long enough to have fun...and that learning curve is so steep because of vets' time-gained skill levels and their lethality toward unskilled noobs. 

Are the vets in the forums a similar barrier to noobs having fun participating in the forums?

Edited by jwilly
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I think what most players do not see are the posts that we hide when it gets particularly vitriol. This is often followed by a personal message from the perpetrator to the mod which isn’t...let’s just say... flattering (luckily we’ve thick skin, and there aren’t complaints emanating from our corner). As a former British Army soldier, I’ve seen and read much, much worse!!!

My personal view is that a select few have made the forums their own personal soapbox and have their own ways in berating or belittling other posters. Some do this by ‘shouting’ louder and some (which is probably worse) do this passively by demonstrating their higher (perceived) intellect. The challenge of course is that this is the internet and we’d naturally expect differing personalities to clash, particularly across borders and cultures (British sarcasm and American directness are two good examples).

Perhaps we have too many sections in the forum and an amalgamation of areas would encourage more inclusive engagement. I’m not entirely convinced that we require premium / secure / hangar / barracks / motor pool / harbour as this is certainly dividing users. Perhaps keep OT as-is, because well, no explanation needed!

Cheers, Poker (part of the mod squad)

Edited by Poker
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4 hours ago, Poker said:

I think what most players do not see are the posts that we hide when it gets particularly vitriol. This is often followed by a personal message from the perpetrator to the mod which isn’t...let’s just say... flattering (luckily we’ve thick skin, and there aren’t complaints emanating from our corner). As a former British Army soldier, I’ve seen and read much, much worse!!!

My personal view is that a select few have made the forums their own personal soapbox and have their own ways in berating or belittling other posters. Some do this by ‘shouting’ louder and some (which is probably worse) do this passively by demonstrating their higher (perceived) intellect. The challenge of course is that this is the internet and we’d naturally expect differing personalities to clash, particularly across borders and cultures (British sarcasm and American directness are two good examples).

Perhaps we have too many sections in the forum and an amalgamation of areas would encourage more inclusive engagement. I’m not entirely convinced that we require premium / secure / hangar / barracks / motor pool / harbour as this is certainly dividing users. Perhaps keep OT as-is, because well, no explanation needed!

Cheers, Poker (part of the mod squad)

 Leave our hangar alone. Back to the barracks you go :P

-now, hopefully you understand there is NO ill intend in my statement above. It is a paraphrase of what people used to say back in the day when forums were really active. But you certainly know that :) 

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Xoom hit the nail on the head here.

12 hours ago, XOOM said:

 

The fourth major problem is: WE'VE ALL BEEN HERE AWHILE

Kind of like in a marriage, it's important to be working at it with good intentions 110% of the time otherwise things can degrade. We are blessed to have so many people who have been part of our game stick around and actively contribute and stay subscribed ~ seriously, it's awesome.

 

Nailed.

most of the forumites have been here a decade or more. The forums became less about new information, and more about the same posts cropping up again and again.

We used to be all learning the game at the same time, sharing info for others to utilize and build on.  Longtime vets arent going to learn anything new from the forums, and some feel no one can tell them anything different than what they already know is fact.... even if it isnt.

The forum culture is corrupt. Some choosing to only use the venue to prove how biased the game is.

We cant help these people, they cant discuss rationally, and revert to "your mama wears army boots" rhetoric when challenged. These breed more of the same.

For lack of anything better to do with a tumor, i'd have them purged.

Ive been a 20 year fanboy, I choose to see and comment on the greatness of what has been accomplished with this game and community. Some can only see the perceived failings, and feel the need to project the negativity.

Good luck CRS.

 

 

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13 hours ago, XOOM said:

 

We're on that path now, I can see it. Our Facebook group has a whole different atmosphere to it and our fans are having a great time with it. The hostility doesn't exist and everyone is more engaged.

 

Facebook also happens to be free for all, as long as you have an account, unlike the most active part of the forums.

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9 hours ago, jwilly said:

What's the vet:noob ratio on Facebook, as opposed to here?

How often do noobs become steady posters, or at least lurkers/readers, there as opposed to here?

Do the forums tend to run off the noobs that try to participate here?

It's long been recognized that the game's vets are a gameplay-barrier to customer retention, because gameplay has such a steep learning curve to get good enough to survive long enough to have fun...and that learning curve is so steep because of vets' time-gained skill levels and their lethality toward unskilled noobs. 

Are the vets in the forums a similar barrier to noobs having fun participating in the forums?

I refuse to blame the vets for the learning curve/retention issue.  That's on CRS for squad engagement and training tools, not considering VERY carefully a mediated 'first hour' experience to get people in the habit of  how to learn what they need to learn.

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28 minutes ago, Kilemall said:

I refuse to blame the vets for the learning curve/retention issue.  That's on CRS for squad engagement and training tools, not considering VERY carefully a mediated 'first hour' experience to get people in the habit of  how to learn what they need to learn.

I read jwilli's post as being somewhat sarcastic. Maybe I used the wrong key to it?? 

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My general response here is that certainly there are vicious postings, but here's the thing- there really ARE people who seek to game the system by getting advantage while minimizing the other side's advantages.  I've been fighting that fight for nearly two decades now, pretty clear it happens, and they do need to be called out some way if they don't approach things from a total game health/fair chance perspective.

Secondly, I'm a problem solver.  Several may pillory or even rightly criticize what I come up with, but my intent is to solve problems with suggestions, approaching it from what would and could CRS do to maximize the game into not what everyone wants, but what the game needs to maximize play value and retention.  As such, that means I have to bring up ugly truths (at least as I see them) about specific things, even if the game is still as a whole an amazing 'not available elsewhere' experience.  The recent WBS/Covid play just shows this baby can still purr and run circles around anything else with enough pop.  If we have to go to shiny happy players singing the company song for positivity and just posting wish lists, I got no interest in that, means we aren't going to face ugly things CRS may not want to face or hopes to ignore away.

Third, I am NEVER signing onto Facebook, EVER.  It's a horrible tool for my line of work (IT) that helps hackers social engineer for identity theft and possibly work-related break-ins, not to mention I am against it philosophically for personal data collection profits and we got a taste of where that goes with the 2012 and 2016 elections. 

Finally, OT.  May not be value for most game players, but it is for a lot of vet players, and I suspect was part of the game design in the first place, to build community retention and a place to go that's with the game but not of the game.  It's a refuge from an internet gone stark raving mad politically correct or tribal, and a place to run into people that think different from you instead of the same and engage them in bumper car arguments with a little refereeing.

Bottom line, no forum, then I suspect my interest is going to go away if I am forced to post enforced happy shiny positivity or HAVE to sign onto Facebook to register.  I imagine you have staff who would be glad to see me go since I critique their work.

 

You know, Star Citizen went happy shiny jackboot mod style, and I stopped paying into or forum posting that system years ago in large measure because of how they handled hard questions like are you on an engineering path to finish the game?  I know I had Chris Roberts' attention at one point, but whatever benefit they may have had from my money or suggestions went away when mods dumped on me constantly and roving thugs of Agenda Police drove topics off.

Eh, I have a backup entertainment/forum plan, another game I played in my youth (paper RPG) has a mix of hard modding in open forums and rough posting in the paid section, so I'll just send my sub money there if it comes to that.  A whole new set of people to bedevil or amuse.  And I'm just one sub, so maybe your future is the corporate moderated experience.  Certainly many companies go that route.

 

Is there a problem here with the metagamers playing forum riot games to get their way?  Sure.  Always has been.  They need training in what is acceptable, just like gameplay.

But consider this- if you make the community be happy shiny, you won't know about problems until it's too late.

Consider Scotsman's informational post in the Motor Pool on armor vs. ammo- since that was posted, the screaming noises about the tanks have damped down a LOT.  You have the power to proactively do things like that to avoid a lot of forum messes and unsubs.

Also consider that people sub often not for gameplay as is that bothers them, but the dream of what could be.  Cut off that avenue of hope/action in posting and IMO you'll lose some dreamer subs.

And remember the Free 2 Play elimination and how that turned out.  CRS was warned, didn't pay attention, damage done.  Force us to be shiny happy and the only way people can communicate is with their feet.

So do whatever you're going to do, I expect you'll do it and too damn bad about us dinosaurs.  CRS certainly has always done what it perceives need doing despite clear warnings.  Just don't act surprised about the consequences from a playerbase that has been crazy supportive beyond reason because of the dream.

Edited by Kilemall
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10 hours ago, jwilly said:

What's the vet:noob ratio on Facebook, as opposed to here?

How often do noobs become steady posters, or at least lurkers/readers, there as opposed to here?

Do the forums tend to run off the noobs that try to participate here?

It's long been recognized that the game's vets are a gameplay-barrier to customer retention, because gameplay has such a steep learning curve to get good enough to survive long enough to have fun...and that learning curve is so steep because of vets' time-gained skill levels and their lethality toward unskilled noobs. 

Are the vets in the forums a similar barrier to noobs having fun participating in the forums?

If you are looking for a considered response or path to action based on data, the above is it. Perhaps the forums are somewhat the 'old husband' (or wife) and what the game needs is a place - say Facebook - where the kids are semi-shielded from the old aggravation and endless minuscule, however valid, complaints about details. 

The vet barrier to retention is true. What shocked me from the beginning compared to almost every other pvp game since 2001, is the noticeable lack of community HELP via the FORUMS. 

No manual, tips, guides, answers to gameplay questions and mechanics, big and small, no real community-based wiki - yes there are some standout items - Five's Maps, Parasit Guides, Baszo's Guides/Site, the old BattleGround Europe collection of links and even a semi-up-to-date Wiki, plus BGEM etc etc. But these things are not stickied or posted top of the forums (or Facebook), nor are they living, breathing, evolving sources of accurate information, advice, insights, or gameplay tips.  

This is further proven by the myriad and constant simple questions asked in chat by new players, ie. "how to deploy mortar",  'how to release bombs''' 'what is an AO?"| to which there is usually 1 accurate answer and 4 joke answers from Vets (including me). Even worse is the constant sight of green-tags, still, walking from FBs to towns, on missions in the middle of nowhere or tossing smoke on an FMS. This was overwhelming during the Steam release and still continues. 

So yeah, not fair maybe to blame the Vets, certainly not fair to blame the Noobs, and things are what they are given the cliched 'steep learning curve' and 'hardest pvp game on the planet' stuff. All true. But doesn't move towards fixing the forum issues outlined above. 

In the spirit of positivity, some suggestions drawn from the above posts: 

1.  Analyze the data/numbers of new vs vets  on forums vs facebook to determine the best place to reach new players to inform and maybe retain them
2.  Gather ALL THE GUIDES, TIPS, COLLECTIONS, LINKS and put them in one OBVIOUS UP FRONT PLACE both on the forums and fbook
2A. Encourage updates to old and posting of new tips, guides, gameplay insights, etc. to the above in stickied threads
2B. Try the above for 3-6 months and analyze what happens and if it is working or anyone, vet or noob, contributes or even cares

The new-ish GAMEPLAY SUPPORT AND TRAINING has some of this stuff. Is it used? Is it being updated? Does it have all the available stuff? Is it all on Facebook? Do the post/view numbers show increasing use and evolution? Half the posts there are tech questions as opposed to gameplay - is that good? Actually helpful? And why is there almost a confusingly duplicate FREE PLAY SUPPORT AND INFO which has some guides and threads, different from GAMEPLAY SUPPORT? I'm old and even I"m confused. 

Failure to communicate GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

 

MEANWHILE: 
3.  Either trim the existing Premium Only Forums down to something like Allied/Axis and GamePlay and Game Mechanics and OT,  and/or: 
4.  Open up Barracks/Hangar/MotorPool/Harbour to everyone, relabelled  INF PLAY+ TIPS, FLYING PLAY + TIPS, TANKING PLAY + TIPS, NAVY PLAY + TIPS 
5.  Establish at least 6 new sub-forums in OT and watch posts and subscriptions rise. 


Metal Gear Solid 5 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

S!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by sorella
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On 27.3.2020 at 3:48 PM, Kilemall said:

Force us to be shiny happy and the only way people can communicate is with their feet.

...

So do whatever you're going to do, I expect you'll do it and too damn bad about us dinosaurs.  CRS certainly has always done what it perceives need doing despite clear warnings.  Just don't act surprised about the consequences from a playerbase that has been crazy supportive beyond reason because of the dream.

The fora provide group cohesion for a bigger part of the playerbase than you may realise. I know at least two rotes that paid subscriptions last year almost exclusively for the forums. None of them has a FB account and definitely won't create one.

A lot of good points to improve the forums have already been posted. Reducing the number of subforums and opening up the premium sections to all registered users would be good first steps. Also, we need a train subforum in OT.

As for negativity, if you close down the place where people go to bi atch about the game, they will come and ruin your shiny happy Facebook page in no time. 

Lastly, could you explain what MINIMAL-NO PROACTIVE DIALOGUE means? To me this looks like a four square streak in bull$hit bingo.

 

Edited by rote7
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Presumably there's a tool in the forum software to understand the metrics of forum activity - which areas are active in terms of views, posts etc? That would be interesting to see - which areas people are using and which are redundant

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On 3/27/2020 at 10:45 AM, bogol said:

I read jwilli's post as being somewhat sarcastic. Maybe I used the wrong key to it?? 

No, I was serious, as befits a Xoom thread about a business issue. But I certainly might be wrong, cf: Kilemall's post.

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A number of years ago, I was Lead Mod here. I had Rafter's OK to immediately move-to-a-hidden-location, or occasionally edit, posts that accused CRS of bias, otherwise attacked them, and/or threatened CRS with loss of the poster's business and other game contributions if X wasn't changed as the poster wanted.

Anyone that felt a need to make the latter threat in particular, wasn't going to do so using a server and bandwidth paid for by CRS.

We also were less open to posts by vets with the general themes: change the game to take away some of the other side's capabilities and give more capabilities to my side, or make it easier for me to kill a lot and not be killed myself.

Noobs of course often make the latter type post, not knowing any better yet, and those were tolerated more.

That modding approach made business sense to me, but OTOH, eventually Rafter fired me for my inability to get along with back-then-more-freewheeling OT flame wars, so maybe I was wrong.

It remains my view though that CRS's current direction to the mod team is more tolerant than IMO it should be.

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15 minutes ago, jwilly said:

A number of years ago, I was Lead Mod here. I had Rafter's OK to immediately move-to-a-hidden-location, or occasionally edit, posts that accused CRS of bias, otherwise attacked them, and/or threatened CRS with loss of the poster's business and other game contributions if X wasn't changed as the poster wanted.

Anyone that felt a need to make the latter threat in particular, wasn't going to do so using a server and bandwidth paid for by CRS.

We also were less open to posts by vets with the general themes: change the game to take away some of the other side's capabilities and give more capabilities to my side, or make it easier for me to kill a lot and not be killed myself.

Noobs of course often make the latter type post, not knowing any better yet, and those were tolerated more.

That modding approach made business sense to me, but OTOH, eventually Rafter fired me for my inability to get along with back-then-more-freewheeling OT flame wars, so maybe I was wrong.

It remains my view though that CRS's current direction to the mod team is more tolerant than IMO it should be.

The problem being - if we're talking openly and transparently - that when I was actively moderating game forums, there were so many issues and errors that it was impossible not to ask questions of the competence and forethought unpinning the game. Now I don't know if that's still the case, but I would suggest that in order to protect and present the image of a professional outfit that confronts and locks down negativity, that negativity can't have such obvious justification. Otherwise you just felt like the Iraqi Information Minister "This is fine, no problems, everything is okay"

 

Edited by Silky
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