TRS Transparency

I just wanted to briefly share something I posted on Bethesda’s Fallout 4 forums. The discussion concerned whether or not Beth reads forum posts (the thread title was “Does Beth even bother to read our feedback?”). The usual flaming back and forth was going on when, to everyone’s surprise, a Beth employee actually posted (I’ve been on those forums for a few months now and it was the first time I’d ever seen a dev post). His post was the usual “we appreciate fan feedback” (you can read snippets of it below); this was my response:

“I think part of the frustration regarding perceived disengagement with developers comes from the long arm ‘corporate/political speak’ ya’ll are forced to use when communicating with the public. Take “Todd has mentioned in a number of interviews that we look at feedback from the fans on a regular basis. I think if you look at features from previous Games, patches and DLC’s you can get a sense of us responding to what the fans ask for.” Not to be a jerk, but that’s pretty empty language. Every game developer says “we listen to fan feedback” and “if you look at what we did in the sequel, we were clearly responding to what the fans wanted.”
Not to compare you guys to another dev, but Turtle Rock Studios is the perfect example of how to handle fan engagement. Not only do they respond on their forums regularly, they take the time to explain the logic behind their decisions; throughout the production and release of Evolve (their latest game), they have been willing to go into specifics as to WHY a character gets balanced a certain way or why X feature was omitted.”

I just want to thank TRS (especially @MacMan and @Matthew) for doing such an incredible job engaging their fans. You guys are the gold standard for community engagement in my book, and I hope other devs follow your example.

29 Likes

Hot damn! This is the second feel good post I’ve read this morning. We will keep doing our part. :smile: Really appreciated! Thanks for making Friday even better!

32 Likes

I second this post. Thank you to all of you at TRS for being awesome at what you do.

3 Likes

Thumbs up big time for this!!!

Not the thread for this sir.

5 Likes

Just another reason TRS is so fabulous. The dev team comes across way more human than any other I’ve encountered - so to any devs reading, thanks for all your hard work and involvement! It’s not only fun chatting with you, but it has been an insightful experience in learning about the world of game design.

Fun fact - there are over 12,000 developer posts on the forum. If that doesn’t speak to dedication, I don’t know what does!

8 Likes

A larger company should, in theory, have more people available to communicate than a smaller enterprise. Smaller companies tend to need employees to be all hands on deck. :smile:

7 Likes

It is a suggestion thread dealing with TRS transparency, I agreed with the op and added to it with my own words of encouragement in accordance with the thread, and then respectfully offered my own suggestion on communication? How is this not the thread?

3 Likes

It makes sense that it should work like that, but then it gets to the point where your fans outnumber your devs a million to one.

A company of 500 vs 9,200 (Ubisoft circa 2013) won’t make a difference at that point.

How you communicate absolutely changes depending on the number of people trying to communicate with you, but from what the OP is saying there isn’t really communication as much as ticking the box that says “not ignoring you” without much else to it.

1 Like

Because companies like Bethesda get 1000 threads a minute for game suggestions, it’s like that with every company.

Just how many people do you think get hired to read this stuff in any company?

I implore you to look at GTA V game suggestions, you wont see the end of it.

Ok. Off topic now.

1 Like

I think being small helps. I’m sure a bunch of indie devs are also active on their forums, for example. As companies get larger and budgets increase, and especially when they have partners involved in the product, the people in charge start to get scared that someone might say something wrong. I also think some companies have trouble seeing the value in it. I have worked at a number of other studios, ranging in size from 40 to 150 employees, and none of them allowed their employees to post on the forums. Turtle Rock is the only place that I’ve ever experience this kind of direct communication during my career. We are fortunate that we have a partner who lets us work this way, but I also think times are changing. I think companies have more of a responsibility to talk to their community these days. Lots of companies that have long histories may be slow to make that adjustment, but we’re still pretty new, open minded and nimble and able to make adjustments like that regularly.

18 Likes

Exactly. It’s all about the language being used. Just look at how Macman responded “Hot damn, you made my Friday!” That’s a sentence one would expect from a fellow human being. “Your feedback is deeply valued and we work diligently to address all fan concerns” is corporate speak. It’s empty, it means nothing, and it lacks specificity. I imagine there is a small dev vs big dev dynamic at play here, but I’m guessing it’s more of an accountability issue; when you’re a behemoth like Beth, you lose the ability to freely speak your mind, for fear of speaking out of turn or going “off message.” I appreciate that TRS seems to foster a very robust, open dialog; they both come off as way more genuine and benefit fans by being able to provide specificity and logic behind their development process.

3 Likes

Just look what happened with Riot and Sandbox mode.

That’s what companies fear :stuck_out_tongue:

Fair point about the whole “don’t post anything” rule actually. I guess that’s one of the only surefire ways of controlling any accidental or plain wrong information from getting out.

Still, I feel that in today’s age a company (particularly a large one) that doesn’t put the money in to someone that is actually liaising with the community as their job is acting a little behind the times.

Edit: Hah, seems you were just editing in the same point!

I have no idea, but I’d hope some! PR is clearly vitally important in the gaming world, but I guess it depends on whether your intention for the game is to do more than what it was designed to do on release. With more and more multiplayer features in games I don’t know that companies can afford not to hire people to not only read that stuff, but also (maybe to help with the former) actually channel discussion. Besides, forums are community spaces, it’s not like a good organisation of regulars can’t be formed to help out on that side of things, right? :wink:

3 Likes

Damn, Macman took the words right out of my mouth. Ya, what he said :wink:
Seriously though, it’s why Donald Trump is getting so much love even though he policy is nonexistent and his ideas are to the right of crazy- people like that he’s genuine and willing to speak his mind, rather than focus-group-testing every word first.

2 Likes

I suppose, but are you referring to them just creating good ideas that they are not sure are being heard by the devs, or actually communicate like how it is here with devs and normal folk.

He’ll be prez probably.

I’m a bit lost as to which bit you’re referring to so sorry if I have got the wrong end of the stick here…

I think that when a forum is busy organisation is the key. You cultivate what the community is discussing, and self-administering, and take the important info to and from the developers. You don’t necessarily want developers hanging around on forums discussing things, the whole point of PR is to work out what’s useful communication, in both directions.