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Developers don't listen to players, they follow the data

mmoguy43mmoguy43 Member UncommonPosts: 2,770
Would you agree with this title? Its just a thought I had when realizing that the growing trend of adding sandbox features or open ended gameplay that is going on now. It didn't start until AFTER all the players jumping into Minecraft and clamoring for open worlds, living breathing worlds like Skyrim. Players have actually been wanting and talking about those things for a long time and it wasn't taken seriously until after the data comes in, that that is what players are buying. This spreads to game balance as well, not just with games that are made.
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Comments

  • laokokolaokoko Member UncommonPosts: 2,004

    Obviously they follow the data.

    I don't think minecraft have anything to do with it.  Most game studio can't even get the so called "dumbed down" themepark working.  Most likely they won't get the so called glorified sandbox working.

    People keep on spaming MOBA or FPS or DAYZ or SPRPG on mmorpg forum.  Which spent 100% of their funding on targeting their audience.

  • DamonVileDamonVile Member UncommonPosts: 4,818

    They don't listen to a "single" person like many forum goers tend to imagine.  They do listen to what " people" are saying though. Of course listening and doing are not the same things.

    Sandbox for instance is an obvious example of interpreting what people want. I've always believed that if you put most of these people into a real sandbox they'd be bored in under a week and complaining about having nothing to do. Developers seem to agree with that. They're adding sandbox features to a less strict themepark environment. You still get the guided tour but you're allowed to go off the path when you want to.

    The loud and long rants by people generally get ignored by everyone but the drama queens. If there's no data to support the rant it's probably viewed as just that...a rant.

    So to answer your question...I think developers listen to people and what they ask for but they check it against what the data is showing. It's way too easy to think the vocal minority represents more than it really does just because you see their opinion so often.

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Member Posts: 5,359

    They basically just want "proof" that what the players are saying will actually yield them sales/profit.  Like, if you had 60 million dollars you were looking to invest, and some dude came up to you and said "Look bro, everyone wants open world games, you should make one of those."

    Would you risk your 60 million based on what that dude said?  Probably not.

    But if an open world game came out and tripled the investors' money...then you may be up for investing your 60 million.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • laokokolaokoko Member UncommonPosts: 2,004

    If minecraft is so successful, people'll probably start making minecraft clone.

    A successful SPRPG like skyrim dont' suddenly make people want to make skyrim mmorpg.  It'll take ESO half a century, and it still won't make the same money skyrim made.

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko Member EpicPosts: 6,916

    I think the "change in the wind" (there's very little to actually show for it yet) was caused primarily by the fact that developers realised they could not ever hope to provide pre-made content fast enough to keep players busy.

     

    Let's face it, a significant percentage of players nowadays tear through the 3-4 years of MMO development work in 2-3 months.

  • laokokolaokoko Member UncommonPosts: 2,004
    I'm not sure where all the so called new sandbox people claim to come out.  I see everquest next.  I'm not sure what people are talking about.
  • AzrileAzrile Member Posts: 2,582
    Originally posted by SpottyGekko

    I think the "change in the wind" (there's very little to actually show for it yet) was caused primarily by the fact that developers realised they could not ever hope to provide pre-made content fast enough to keep players busy.

     

    Let's face it, a significant percentage of players nowadays tear through the 3-4 years of MMO development work in 2-3 months.

    WOW is starting to fall victim to this the last few expansions.  They spend so much of their development time for every expansion on content that most players will finish in a month.  Players then are starved for content the next 17 months.I think it is part of the reason they are adding ´garrisons´ as the big feature of WoD..  while it isn´t ´sandbox´ gameplay, it is something similar in how it will play out during the expansion.

    To the OP..  it is simply about investments.  You cannot expect a company to spend $50M on a concept that has never really worked before.   As much as many of us love the old UO, very few players nowadays could handle playing that way again, at least not on a massive scale to earn back your investment.  Themeparks get built because any developer who is searching for funding can hold up WOW.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Member RarePosts: 14,247
    Originally posted by SpottyGekko

    I think the "change in the wind" (there's very little to actually show for it yet) was caused primarily by the fact that developers realised they could not ever hope to provide pre-made content fast enough to keep players busy.

    Agreed. 2007-2009 were a big learning experience for the industry. 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
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  • Blaze_RockerBlaze_Rocker Member UncommonPosts: 370
    Originally posted by DamonVile

    They don't listen to a "single" person like many forum goers tend to imagine.  They do listen to what " people" are saying though. Of course listening and doing are not the same things.

    Sandbox for instance is an obvious example of interpreting what people want. I've always believed that if you put most of these people into a real sandbox they'd be bored in under a week and complaining about having nothing to do. Developers seem to agree with that. They're adding sandbox features to a less strict themepark environment. You still get the guided tour but you're allowed to go off the path when you want to.

    The loud and long rants by people generally get ignored by everyone but the drama queens. If there's no data to support the rant it's probably viewed as just that...a rant.

    So to answer your question...I think developers listen to people and what they ask for but they check it against what the data is showing. It's way too easy to think the vocal minority represents more than it really does just because you see their opinion so often.

    A very good response. What I wonder about is all the times developers ignored the minority that were wanting "X" game because the data didn't support it, then one developer comes out of nowhere, ignores the data and makes that type of game and it becomes a runaway hit. Shortly thereafter the data shows that "X" game is what people want even though it didn't before.

    What I'm trying to say here is that I believe there is more here than what we are seeing at a given time. Sometimes there is a "Cause and Effect" scenario where people don't necessarily know what they want until someone actually gives it to them.

     

    Say for example in the year 20XX a particular type of themepark game is really popular and the data reflects this because there are several games on the market all doing very well profit-wise. Seeing the data, other developers jump on this and commit to games that take several years to develop and finally market. Lets say that one game took 3 years to fully launch and it is popular and profitable for the first year but then over the next year the popularity drops sharply. The game has a number or improvements over previous games and it is of a genre that is still popular in the countries it is sold/marketed. Why is it suddenly failing despite regular updates, good customer service and a competitive price?

    What comes to me first is "changing trends". Just like fashion and the weather the world of gaming changes frequently, albeit a little slower. When the particular themepark games were popular the data reflected that. The problem is that data doesn't always predict future trends. Players had three years to have their fill of that type of themepark game and they've become bored with it. It's old, it's so 4 years ago and it's time for something else so people move on to whatever has become popular NOW rather than what was popular 4 or 5 years ago.

    What if someone ignored all that data from 4 years ago and built a sandbox when every other developer followed the data and made themeparks, and what if that sandbox was the new "thing", what if IT was now the most popular type of game? Developers that follow the data rather than listen to a few players wanting something new, or simply taking a chance on something different, will jump on the sandbox bandwagon and start work on a sandbox because THAT is what is popular and THAT is what the data supports at the given time. Three years of development later the game launches, is successful for about a year or two and then falters because what has become popular is a new type of themepark-sandbox hybrid that one or two developers took a gamble on rather than following the data like the majority of the industry.

     

    I'll admit that this isn't always the case, yet I am forced to admit that times change and people get bored with certain types games and genres so they naturally move on to other things. Yes. Game developers play the data game and most of the time it pays off better than trying something different, but there will always be those times when something few expected becomes popular and changes the data.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 25,371

    What players are saying is another form of data.

    -----

    Strictly quantitative data is much better at answering some questions than others.  It's very useful for looking at play balance:  if you intended for skills A and B to be used equally often, but your players mostly spam skill A and ignore skill B, that should tell you that you accidentally made A stronger than B.

    But quantitative data doesn't really tell you if players like your lore or the artwork in a zone.  If zones A and B are built for the same level and zone A has more interesting content and zone B gives better rewards, most players will go for zone B.

  • FoobarxFoobarx Member Posts: 451

    It all depends...

     

    If you buy into their God-like Subscription Plan (a steal at $10,000 per month), they will not only listen to you, but make that pink flying pig mount that you've always wanted.

     

    If you merely tweet, post on forums, or buy their games, you are essentially given the cone of silence treatment... in that I mean, what you say is echoed back to you but nothing really ever comes of it.  Should change happen, it was purely coincidence, nothing more.

     

    Remember that old phrase "My door is always open?"  Name the last time it was?  I'm waiting....

  • ArclanArclan Member UncommonPosts: 1,550

    I think the OP is giving the industry far too much credit. Blizzard's brilliance aside, the industry has demonstrated extreme ineptitude. Ever since WoW the mantra has largely been to copy WoW. No data required, and not much thought, either. Although most games are finding enough suckers to spend money in the cash shop before realizing how bad the games are. Thus, the industry limps along.

    Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
    In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit

  • Beatnik59Beatnik59 Member UncommonPosts: 2,413

    I'm reading an excellent classic on this very issue: Exit, Loyalty and Voice by Albert O. Hirshmann.

    Players communicate their displeasure in two ways: through an "Exit" strategy (leaving the product) or through a "Political" strategy (by remaining loyal and voicing their concerns).  Both kinds of strategy yield data, but both data can be equally ignored in favor of the other.

    How does an organization, like an MMO publishing house, really know if they are doing something wrong?  Obviously, if they go bankrupt, they did something wrong...but by that time, it's too late.

    So the best thing for a company is to have players send a strong, dramatic signal, by leaving or adopting a different game, but not so strong that they end up leaving the company en masse.

    Of course, if a company listens to players, they can save a lot of trouble by finding out the hard way.

     

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  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 Member UncommonPosts: 2,770
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    What players are saying is another form of data.

    -----

    Strictly quantitative data is much better at answering some questions than others.  It's very useful for looking at play balance:  if you intended for skills A and B to be used equally often, but your players mostly spam skill A and ignore skill B, that should tell you that you accidentally made A stronger than B.

    But quantitative data doesn't really tell you if players like your lore or the artwork in a zone.  If zones A and B are built for the same level and zone A has more interesting content and zone B gives better rewards, most players will go for zone B.

    Interesting and good points. A person's preference doesn't necessarily mean they choose the easier (OP) option but in large quantities it could indicate is it more than just preference. The data can't always speak for the motivations a player has in their choices which could mean that making balances or chances alone based on the data can lead to inappropriate or imbalancing effects. Yes, the story and art can't be quantified on a per location basis but probably wouldn't be subject to change anyway...unless it is truly bad and that data could be parsed and analyzed from player text input.

    Well, data collection may not be used on such a large scale as I imagine but right now I know they are keeping track of our movements, actions, and chat logs (depending on the developer/game ofcourse).

    A developer would say "...but we ARE listening to you. Your actions are speaking louder than your words!" :)

     

    Rewind many years when the MMO industry was very young, yeah, they didn't even have the data to go with so many new and different things were tried, no trends to follow. But once a trend began it was a sure-fire way to secure funding to make it.

  • kjempffkjempff Member RarePosts: 1,759

    Follow the data, well maybe ...

    That would explain why there is so little innovation, because the only data available is for tried solutions. To continue that line of thought, WoW is the most reliable data to follow. Action based game has a long history of data to lean on. Console games be calculated better with the exact number of consoles known, and its type of players are also well defined.

    Kind of one sided thought, but not entirely untrue either.

  • Vermillion_RaventhalVermillion_Raventhal Member EpicPosts: 4,198
    I think they tend to listen to the data without thinking through the consequences of giving players their base wants.  Sometimes it is like pleasing your child by constantly giving them candy.  Sure data says they're pleased by getting candy as an instant response.  But by the end of the journey they have no teeth and dropping dead of obesity related disease and unhappy.   
  • Superman0XSuperman0X Member RarePosts: 2,292


    Originally posted by mmoguy43 Would you agree with this title? Its just a thought I had when realizing that the growing trend of adding sandbox features or open ended gameplay that is going on now. It didn't start until AFTER all the players jumping into Minecraft and clamoring for open worlds, living breathing worlds like Skyrim. Players have actually been wanting and talking about those things for a long time and it wasn't taken seriously until after the data comes in, that that is what players are buying. This spreads to game balance as well, not just with games that are made.
     

    I would agree with your general sentiment... However, I would modify it to be:

    Developers/Publishers follow the money. They watch where the money goes, and try to make a product that matches that demand. Whenever there is consumer expendature on certain products/markets, anyone in the business to meet that demand tries to capitolize on the market.

    There are always a few indies trying something new, but until one of them has a big hit (makes lots of money) those that are already in the market, do not try to follow them.

    The simple reason for this is that what people SAY they want, and what the actually spend money on are often vastly different. Game development is very time consuming and costly, and as such tends to follow known sucessful variables, as those that do not, go broke and can not try again.

  • Vermillion_RaventhalVermillion_Raventhal Member EpicPosts: 4,198
    Originally posted by Superman0X

     


    Originally posted by mmoguy43 Would you agree with this title? Its just a thought I had when realizing that the growing trend of adding sandbox features or open ended gameplay that is going on now. It didn't start until AFTER all the players jumping into Minecraft and clamoring for open worlds, living breathing worlds like Skyrim. Players have actually been wanting and talking about those things for a long time and it wasn't taken seriously until after the data comes in, that that is what players are buying. This spreads to game balance as well, not just with games that are made.
     

     

    I would agree with your general sentiment... However, I would modify it to be:

    Developers/Publishers follow the money. They watch where the money goes, and try to make a product that matches that demand. Whenever there is consumer expendature on certain products/markets, anyone in the business to meet that demand tries to capitolize on the market.

    There are always a few indies trying something new, but until one of them has a big hit (makes lots of money) those that are already in the market, do not try to follow them.

    The simple reason for this is that what people SAY they want, and what the actually spend money on are often vastly different. Game development is very time consuming and costly, and as such tends to follow known sucessful variables, as those that do not, go broke and can not try again.

     

    I believe the strategy was to emulate World of Warcraft and give players what they respond by metrics.   It fits with the themepark mania and all the instant gratification.  

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon Member EpicPosts: 27,775
    Originally posted by Arclan

    I think the OP is giving the industry far too much credit. Blizzard's brilliance aside, the industry has demonstrated extreme ineptitude. Ever since WoW the mantra has largely been to copy WoW. No data required, and not much thought, either. Although most games are finding enough suckers to spend money in the cash shop before realizing how bad the games are. Thus, the industry limps along.

    As the whole the industry is growing.

    And there are many successful new individual games (aside from Blizz). LoL, WoT, even TOR is making $200M+ in 2013. GW2 is doing well (selling 3.5+M in the first 2 weeks).

    If they can get people to spend money, more power to them.

  • TheHavokTheHavok Member UncommonPosts: 2,423

    I don't think a few anecdotal incidents should warrant a generalization of all game developers.

    Things aren't so black and white.  Developers want their games to be successful so of course they look at the data but they also listen to players feedback.

    I've worked with game developers before.  They have bosses just like the rest of us who they have to answer to.  But they also want to make awesome games that make their player's happy.

  • ArclanArclan Member UncommonPosts: 1,550


    Originally posted by TheHavok
    I don't think a few anecdotal incidents should warrant a generalization of all game developers.

    Things aren't so black and white.  Developers want their games to be successful so of course they look at the data but they also listen to players feedback.

    I've worked with game developers before.  They have bosses just like the rest of us who they have to answer to.  But they also want to make awesome games that make their player's happy.


    I don't think the title of the thread meant the actual programmers, themselves. Of course they want to make awesome games; but are forced to make what they're given by the higher ups.

    Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
    In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit

  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441

    To me it seems like they check out 2 things:

    1. Which games  are doing well (lets make something similar).

    2. What are the competition working on.

    It is very common that someone tells us that their new game will have this cool and new feature, and the time it takes for a whole bunch of devs to add into into their project or patch it into their already released game is not long.

    When devs listen to the players it seems to be more about nerfing the difficulty and class balance, or very easy to add features that the players think the already released game is missing. All that feedback happens earliest in the beta though.

    But I kinda wonder how much of this the devs decide and what is put in by the investors and publishers.

  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    Originally posted by TheHavok

    I don't think a few anecdotal incidents should warrant a generalization of all game developers.

    Things aren't so black and white.  Developers want their games to be successful so of course they look at the data but they also listen to players feedback.

    I've worked with game developers before.  They have bosses just like the rest of us who they have to answer to.  But they also want to make awesome games that make their player's happy.

    That is of course true, some game devs spend a lot time on forums. I did discuss GW2 a little with Jeff Strain years just after it was announced and he seems to listen to many players (sadly he quit ANET 2 years before release but he leads Undead labs nowadays) and he is hardly the only one.

    But there seems to be more of a certain "vision" dev (Sorry, people who don't remember EQ for that reference).

    Then again, the question is how much devs should listen to players. Far than a few players are happy with Status quo and thinks MMOs should stay exact the same way as they was a certain time (from when Meridian released to today depending on the players) and while I don't always agree about how MMOs evolve they do need to evolve in more ways than better graphics to survive.

    Some players do have great ideas, some small and some large and the devs should consider any good idea but totally listen to players and chances are that the game will be way too generous with loot to be fun longtime and what difficulty a game should have really depends on what players you want.

    What is clear is that devs need to try make games that havn't already been done over and over. If they use their own ideas or players isn't as important as how good the ideas are and that a zillion other games don't already use them. Just doing the same as everyone else with a slightly different world and more modern graphics is a sure way of failure.

    Wow was a huge success and many devs tried (way back) to make their own version but that failed because there was already a Wow. The same goes for any game and while you can take a not so successful games ideas and implement them better to make a success (like Wow did) remaking an already successful MMO wont work.

    Sequels is another thing that have failed since AC2. MMO players always seems to prefer the original game and the only few games that done okay are either way different from the original game (and many of them has failed as well) or are released so long after the first game that it's target are nostalgic people and people who never even heard of the first (and I am not sure that actually worked but it might).

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon Member EpicPosts: 27,775
    Originally posted by Loke666

    Some players do have great ideas, some small and some large and the devs should consider any good idea but totally listen to players and chances are that the game will be way too generous with loot to be fun longtime and what difficulty a game should have really depends on what players you want.

    What is clear is that devs need to try make games that havn't already been done over and over. If they use their own ideas or players isn't as important as how good the ideas are and that a zillion other games don't already use them. Just doing the same as everyone else with a slightly different world and more modern graphics is a sure way of failure.

    Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Polish, implementations, or even prioritization matters a lot more.

    In terms of doing the same thing again and again .. it works for FPS, shooters, and many genre of games. Even something like Wolfenstein (which reviews well, and fun (to me)) is "just" a FPS in an old and try environment. You don't need 100% new setting/idea/gameplay to have fun.

     

     

  • rounnerrounner Member UncommonPosts: 725
    Don't forget about the tools and technologies available to developers at the time. You can have a lot of games using an engine that are similar because they are constrained to what the engine is good at.
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