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The Community Services' Blind Spot

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 12:44 pm    Post subject: The Community Services' Blind Spot Reply with quote

Muffy's Cassandra Complex
Trojan Horses and how they win friends and influence really dumb people
That's GM_Savant's site apparently. I'm kinda slow on the uptake, seeing how it's been around for awhile. guess i hobknob with the wrong peeps.
warning: occasional harsh language below
Found an interesting rant about dev/player dynamics, here, and noticed something missing from both the article itself and comments...Seem to be alot of blind spots about politics. It's almost like there's the Ivory Tower of "official dudes" and the Jungle of the community, with the obvious being community managers in the middle. Seems like a complete picture, eh? They didn't talk about much else, and specifically avoided something because i got this sixth sense about it.
If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
I hate that niggling feeling. So how was i gonna find something not printed? Not one to give into despair i boldly set out into the unknown...
Now, focusing on understanding The Eternal Rift (implicit with that is the "other side of the coin", so to speak: experience of specific reputations that comes from interacting with both sides -- the good, the bad and the ugly) creates a major blind spot: Newbies.
    ya, i know, it sounds silly...What's politics got to do with n00bs? Think of it as an unintended 'False Dichotomy'
Let's start by focusing on this "dichotomy" and build a concept of this blind spot before i start talking about the n00bs...Now, if you've been around ~7 months you're going to find out who the pottymouths are, even if you live under a freakin rock. These problem players (like myself, i admit) have a known reputation. Reputation is our bread and butter. It's THE reason we play MMOGs (that and the AI technology sucks)

Thing is, i've noticed that the two issues (Eternal Rift & Reputation) pretty much form the entirety of most "Elitist Pricks" (old beta6 injoke; I called a friend that and he laffed. The trolls missed the irony)...So much so it's hard to concentrate on both at the same time without getting lost in the politics and getting apathetic about the 'Martyr' (ie. MENSA troll.) and it's damaging affect on n00b lurkers though you'll hardly ever see the effect. go figure.
    "Lowtax" seems to hit it the nail on the head with this definition of Mensa troll. For those of you like me who had no fucking clue until today WTF 'mensa' meant go here. (in short, 'Martyr' = MENSA troll = Chutzpah)

    Take for example the reason i quit: Berzerker posting a "Death Threats are mean and i'm so innocent" thread. We all know he's a very vocal chronic pottymouth ingame and on the forums (especially PJG when it was still active, bless Gossip's cotton socks.) Plus the well known fact the pottymouthed bastards are usually the biggest MENSA troll Martyr's this side of Christ! (at least well known to those who've played MMOGs for a while - It's practically a sub-culture)
I know it sounds wierd, but understanding dev/community stormy relations and at the same time bringing in your experience of specific reputations is fucking tuff and you get blind sided by the inherent cliqueness of it all. The blind spot usually manifests itself in the inability to sort the chaff from the wheat when it comes to whinefests, especially the Martyr posts. Moderators of forums are prone to stick to eliminating pottymouths and forget that the Martyr (MENSA troll) posts are positively lethal.

Now why are they lethal, you ask? You might say to yourself, "Well, i knew Zerk was being a troll, damnit! why did you go flame the moderators and quit over the fact the thread existed that long...It's dead and buried now...we all knew it. Besides, even if the mods don't have time to know Zerk's reputation, you gotta give em some slack. Hell! you didn't even bother handing them the rope! Besides, the n00bs are too busy repainting docking bays to worry about this single ephemeral whinefest."
Monty Python wrote:
Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who
    I underlined the operative words in the above paragraph. For anyone who knows what i'm about to say, skip the next paragraph.
    Let's get something straight, Mr. Elitist Prick: n00bs are not just 'interested' in repainting shuttle bays. They're wide eyed and bushy tailed (otherwise, why play the fucking game in the first place. It's a MMOG. remember what i said about THE reason for playing?) and they WILL notice the occasional "DEATH THREATS" thread or somesuch because it's a click-magnet. duh! And it happens off and on in other guises and contexts, so don't gimmie that crap about rarity = insignificance
Thing is, when some MENSA troll spouts off another white/grey/black lie the n00bs naturally are a bit naive about the "facts" spouted and assume a baseless opinion is actually a valid argument. Which puts a real spin on their concept of the game.

On the first day n00bs already have a concept of what this game is, even if they learn how it's not ever going to be quite the way they envision it, though it's a secondary concern -- They're more interested in player dynamics (ie. the bickering and arguing about who killed who) than climbing that steep learning curve of official thingimajigies they gotta practice, practice, practice. Sure, when you're mentoring them, they're all ears (and have the same sort of cotton banting to pull out too...FAQs mean FREQUENTLY. duh) But, they're always got an eye out for PvP and how it relates to this "TRI" thingimajigy
GM_Arch0n (aka 2 month n00b) wrote:
there's everything from opposing alliances trying to control swathes of sectors, to pirate groups preying on merchants, to squadrons of heavy tow pilots who'll carry any cargo anywhere for a price.
    Even if they're a dyed-in-the-wool Carebear they're going to be interested in who's PvPing; Though i'm sure there might be some fools who actually think they're playing a single-player game &/or have a disconnect when it comes to economy-combat...They actually exist and post things too, Giving "carebear" a bad name.
Now, there's always whinefests and anyone who's ever inhabited a forum knows that it's a subculture (a very 'popular' one.) Where this Blind Spot i've mentioned earlier comes into play is that the politics of any MMOG tend to preclude n00bs. Preclude them in a way that creates the "False Dichotomy" core assumption: That n00bs aren't interested in the politics (player dynamics)
Okay, you ask, "What the FUCK does this 'False Dichotomy' bullshit you're spewing out yer arse have anything to do with this MENSA troll drivel yer spouting out the other end?!" Remember me saying how latter is positively lethal? It's so fucking lethal because the former means blind spot. And when you're a community manager with a big one the onus to not focus on politics ("False Dichotomy") is paramount
    You place yourself in the shoes of someone with no idea about who's got what reputation (pilot skills, character, OOC agenda & usual posting style, if any) and have accidentally read a rare (yes, rare!) thread like this. What the hell would you think if you didn't know that Berzerker was one of the worst pottymouths and makes me look like some hari-krishna selling flowers (well, okay, maybe a whole hell of a LOT of flowers. but, hey!)

    You'd think what a disgusting display by two players (or one if they're retarded (picked Cobra) - or really smart (picked Zerk))...And not pick up on the fact that PvP in jumpgate has a more folk like Cobra than Zerk, nevermind what was actually said.

  • My context: no matter what was said (personally, zerk could have posted anything...say "cobra called me a nazi and i have pic" etc) the fact of the matter was Savant shouldn't have posted a reply but simply deleted it and then dealt with it privately. Themis Group have been around JG for the entire year including pre-official feet warming (see here) so it couldn't have been a case of not knowing Zerk's reputation, even if they are superbusy. (i'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here; if i really wanted to tear them a new arse, i'd not give them the benefit. go figure. period.)
For those of you smart enough to know me, you probably skipped to the end for the conclusion where i get to the point

Savant made an interesting article about how understanding the rift between devs & players is just as important as interacting with them, and how a thick skin helps even after years of experience. There was something missing though and the comment section helped me solidify it. When one looks at n00bs through the lens of 'Politics', a n00b isn't buying that metaphor and ain't interested in not being interested in player dynamics right from the get go, just because the veterans stamp them with that sterotype.

It puts the lie to "self-policing" folks when one gets so blinded by the ideal...
Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. forget a Martyr can fly a tow sideways through the loopholes in the "codes of conduct"
    When you violate the codes of conduct you're a griefer. and this particular griefer's n00b victims aren't even seen by those with the blind spot

p.s. I'm not a mensa troll because i swear. no mensa worth his/her salt would sully their loquatious wax with colourful idioms. (i on the other hand would probably be classified as 'mealy mouthed')
p.s.s. wanna-be martyrs are a dime a dozen and can usually be found in your average whine and cheese festival happening 24/7.

Last edited by MajorFreak on Thu Jan 16, 2003 4:54 am; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2002 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn. i read that again and i really like the way i came across. (even i get uncomfortable when i get rancid) hmmm...for the sake of brevity, here's the gist of this old subject...

There's something missing in the equation when someone tells me i have no tolerance for honest mistakes. I'm sure that's what TG think of my attitude, if they really know the reason i quit. (personally, i find it hard to believe they'd think i quit over being banned for a week. as shown here)
    folks over at my old community -- Homeworld -- never buy my "boo hoo i've been banned" speels and tell me i love being banned
The missing equation is the subjectivity of knowing that Berzerker was a pottymouth...They forget n00bs don't. In fact, i've seen lots of empirical evidence showing this "forgetfulness" is a chronic blind spot...proven by the fact TG GM's haunt F5:help instead of F5:chat (just like the devs did/do)

I bitched about the deeper meaning behind the "f5:help" problem here
G. B. Stern wrote:
When I was very young, I was disgracefully intolerant but when I passed the thirty mark I prided myself on having learned the beautiful lesson that all things were good, and equally good. That, however, was really laziness. Now, thank goodness, I've sorted out what matters and what doesn't. And I'm beginning to be intolerant again.

Last edited by MajorFreak on Thu Dec 26, 2002 8:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2002 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

got to thinking about that 'Anarchy Online' speel i did so long ago. Since Arch0n decided to poke a stick into an old wound, i might as well start up the muffy mobile.

loomus wrote:
Hes right..I just came on the board because i can't play my missions tonight..anywhere.Warping all over the place, black doors,The fights with the mobs just freeze.Every mission i pull where i want to play is in a controlled land area.And even when its not the message in the mission says it is.Get some levels down and im warped to the beginning again.Notum wars is junk plain and simple.Not to mention the fact that it was promised as more content added later.Not as a booster pack to make up for lost money from the player base shrinking from players being treated like beta monkeys.The game is going down fast pure and simple.So why do you play they say....because i really do like this concept of an online game and when something along the same lines comes along i will leave.Customer service sucks.The devs obviously don't know what they are doing.The hardon for pvp play ruined all the classes from nerfs to balance everyone in pvp..the list goes on.I cant beat a beam weilding atrox in pvp(nerf)i can't beat a fixer in grid armor(nerf)That trader is taking away my skills(nerf)Pet pathing,lag,Engies(we wont even go there)No end in site.Pathetic pure and simple.The worst of all is being lied to by funcom.What ever happened to(Build alts on rubi-ka 1 cause eventually u can switch between 1 and 2.(another lie.)Oh and oh yeah lag lag lag lag lag lag lag.I built my computer it is state of the art ,raid setup and top end everything with blazing fast cable(the nodes' right on the pole down at the bottom of my driveway.Its the game and the way its being handled.

uh huh...happy fun fun over at AO. riiiiight. :irony:
The group is working from Funcomís North Carolina office and is focusing on ways to improve Anarchy Onlineís customer support, in-game events and community programs. The overall goal is to help Funcom build a customer-driven culture that can provide the best service for the companyís games

I believe there's another point i forgot to mention, though it doesn't deal with n00bs. That's this 'consulting' and "bridging" concept. Doesn't this concept imply that Themis Group priorizes customer concerns about gameplay? I do think this "Blind Spot" extends to this topic as well...I wonder how i can connect the two issues coherently? for thought that.

here's a nice news article that's a shameless plug. I find it strange how politicians do this too. "new and improved" is a time honored tactic. simply repackage something in the same old way, but using different nomenclature, and spin it as something unique. "Turning a new leaf"...I remember that well. i skated through school on that BS. What a waste of time that was.

Now, we all know that players burn out to be replaced by fresh's a MMOG axiom. Pity is, leaning on this as an excuse not to do the hard work of 'consulting' -- I find i cannot swallow trite, cliched platitudes in the form of pablum. I know what matters: prioritization of gameplay issues, not "here's something new! it improves on the game! weeee"

Rainy13 once said something plain and simple a long time ago.
repair and replace before expand and beautify
  • Why is ND reluctant to spend the time to add some FMs (the unbroke ones)...aren't those important?
  • Why is ND reluctant to focus on smaller patches? I've heard the excuse, i'm just damned sick of it being such a blatant cop-out. (damn. i can't find the quote. it's here somewhere)

    went something like, "big patches = efficient"...course, that official comment was made months and months ago

  • why is the transport mission the only efficient means for casual players to level? How about patrol credits/scout experience being at least doubled? Do any of these topics register on ThemisGroup's 'consulting' list of priority gameplay issues? How about size2 ecms? size3 combat lasers? fuel missile tanks? (this IS a flight sim, right?) how about cargo missile racks?? radar boosting modx? quantar rockets? how about rocket pods? All these suggestions are to flesh out any player's 'customization' options. Are there any, atm? nope.
  • What about missile size restrictions? and how about those stupid lower level missiles that are glorified rockets? Lvl0 requirement for nukes? what? some twink stuck at GBS? Sorry, gearing the game for munchkin montyhaul campaigns is laziness.
  • And how about those juicy n00b missions to neutral stations? anyone seen the tempting missions? makes me sick. "Crouching Carrot; Hidden Stick"
  • How about larger cargo holds for n00bs? what IS the point of such low spaces? "The Carrot and the Stick" approach to player retention isn't exactly winning kudos. That jump to 500cargo slots is steep...once you can afford that you can afford the light weight hi cost commodity hauls. Where's the middle ground? The transition from lo mass lo cost commodities?
What IS prioritized? well, let's see now. apparently it's 'headlights'. really really big hollow roids. more uberlevel player ship classes. and squad wars. Anyone see a pattern here? pvp and ships and player owned stations are wonderful additions for veteran players. only.

I do not see how "elitist pricks" retain exclusive rights to 'consult'...That isn't "rewarding longevity and loyalty" that's pandering to egos and politics...neither of which improve the retention factor for customers. "new and improved" does NOT hold attention for more than the novelty factor, especially when the addition of 'headlights' and 'uber hollows' seems to be the "other stuff" that "players want"

buh wha? you see what the blind spot is now, right? when you 'consult' you're SUPPOSED to focus on the larger picture. I don't think 'headlights' qualify as anything but myopic.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For devil's advocate i found this sucker by accident while spelunking the forums...
Archon wrote:
Themis reads the forums for both form (moderation) and substance (players' needs and wants).

NetDevil also reads the forums for substance, as you can tell from the fact that SamP responded to the recent thread on General Discussion.

Sorting through the mass of posts to try to determine player needs and wants isn't always easy but we do the best we can to present a fair and accurate picture to ND. We also rely to an extent on the empowered players and test pilots to point out key threads that we might otherwise overlook or which are barometers of player opinion. Its definitely an art rather than a science.

Hope that clears it up a bit.

GM Archon

Last edited by MajorFreak on Wed Feb 05, 2003 5:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sir, Walter Scott wrote:
O what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
Xrefer wrote:
White Lie
An untruth told to spare feelings or from politeness, as in She asked if I liked her dress, and of course I told a white lie. This term uses 'white' in the sense of harmless. [First half of 1700s]
Adam Smith wrote:
Black Lie
Welcome to my plastic world.
Everything is a lie here.
The claim of realism with
manufactured items to arouse your senses.
Is it working... Good.
Lie down in my world.
Lie to yourself for a while.
It won't last long, but...
for a little bit the world will be kind.
Would you you like a glass of wine.
When you get your buzz on we'll pretend
to love one another.
It's a big black lie where everybody
gets hurt.
Norse wrote:
Empty Eyes
Empty eyes
Unseeing eyes
Windows to an empty soul
Staring blankly into the blinding sun
Seeing life in shades of black and white
And various shades...of vibrant grey.
Lacking life's colors to find the way.
Adrift in an alien world
White stars twinkle in a sea,
Of deadoned black
Grey clouds form an endless pathway to nowhere.....
Or to everywhere I can never be.
Yesterday lost in a haze of hopeless dreams
Tomorrow ....shrouded behind a veil of forbidden promises.
Empty eyes cast downward.....
Wetness stains the barren ground
Turning dry grey dust
To black...........
Living in a world I don't belong
Seen through empty eyes....
Grey and black...
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2003 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yah know, i recall reading a nice phrase from someone. i think it was Mark Twain..."If you tell the truth, you'll never have to remember anything."
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2003 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jessica Mulligan (PDF) wrote:
There is a big difference between a debate and an argument; you can't win an argument with a paying customer. Even if you 'win' on points, you lose by creating animosity...Instead, use the opportunity to turn it into a debate, listen to the players, then tell them your decision.

Now, as i hope you know this is a nonsense bit of illogic. (See here for correct logic.)
    i believe ThemisGroup's mistake originates from this concept of "what is an argument and what is debate"
This concept precludes anything with ad hominems as "argument" and holds "reasonable" (politically correct) language as the basis for proper "debate"...Which is all well and good until you realize the REAL TROLLS exploit politically correct language to bully more than they use smacktalk. Unfortunately, they exploit this to insult others under the noses of these high-minded officials who see "debate" as some country club without seeing the hypocrisy, politics and pettiness that usually goes with that setting. Why is this worse than smacktalk? Although i feel there is no real need for smacktalk at all, i use it when i feel it's appropriate, and i'm sure that's an incorrect assumption. (though i know in my heart using pottymouthed language is the least damaging flame one can post, it's certainly the most crude)
    the point is that there are worse ways to attack a person's opinion/argument than in plain view with pottymouthed behavior. Ways that involve alot of really nasty and bitter words twisted in the full knowledge the moderators are too biased by their own belief system ("argument versus debate") to catch on. In fact they often apologize when a troll plays semantics about "what they really said"
The ones who exploit the political correct form of "debate" (ie. post sabotage, agent provocateur, character assassination, inquisition, and the trump card of using pottymouthed behavior to trash a thread) do so to defend their love of exploiting the game system itself. This type wants to eat their cake and have it too -- and also tell others to eat cake as well.

This petty "country golf club" mentality destroys the CommunityService reps ability to see the woods from the trees (community priorities)...What ends up as a cynical division of labour, not a pragmatic "wide angle lens" the spindoctors wax loquatious about on the news article sites. A division of labour that precludes that fabled "bridge" between developers and community that the CS companies always rave about.

There is a thread dealing with community priorities, here, and it's few and very far between. (most likely happily forgotten by the officials)
    personally, i feel the most important priority are the n00bs, and n00bs rarely post on the forums or talk on the ingame chats...which begins to focus attention on what REALLY is wrong with this 'blind spot'... F5:help
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