SmokeJumper Hints at New Initiatives, Talks Player Feedback

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Expansion News, SOE Wants Feedback

On last night’s EQ2Talk Podcast, Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson shared his thoughts about the importance of player feedback. We provide a transcription of the segment from 7:55~12:15.

In the past, we’ve been a little heavy handed on a few things. I admit that. We’re trying to be really serious this year about getting you guys [all the players]  involved in a lot of stuff. Traditionally, the game has been… you know we try to communicate on the forums, but you know what the forums are like. It’s a challenge. The trolls enjoy their game. And it’s tough to fight them because if you pay attention [to them], you lose. The forums are tough to get really good feedback from so we have to rely on things like Fan Faires and talking to people individually and Customer Service Reports and those sorts of things.

That’s why I want to start putting in in-game polls. I suspect that there’s a lot of really good information, a lot of opinions we’re not hearing at all. [To Dellmon:] You’re a broadcaster, so you’re familiar with the concept that if somebody calls you, you have to figure there’s a hundred or a thousand other people with the exact same opinion out there, but didn’t bother to call. There’s a lot of people out there that are basically not voting.

I want to put in these in-game polls that we can start posing questions like on EQ2X, I really like self-resurrect scrolls, because I’m one of those solo players that charges into madness and tries to see how much I can get away with. I’m like Leroy Jenkins myself. That’s the kind of player I am. The self-rez scrolls are really fun for me because I can just pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again. So I’m going to miss those.

If we wanted to put those back in the game though, we know that there are people who have issues with it, so what we would do is put in an in-game poll that says “Would you like it this way, or that way? With a longer recharge? a shorter recharge? Or would you like it to never be in the damn game ever again?” We’ll look at the polls and decide that’s what we’ll do. There’s a lot of things we can do. We have more ideas than we can possibly implement. So if you guys hate one, there’s no reason for us to do it.

This is supposed to be more and more of you guys owning this game. The attitude of Age of Discovery, with collectability and customizability and you guys getting to actually impact what’s going on in the game… We want to take that a lot farther than this. This is just the first step. Eventually, you guys will be in more and more control of the decision-making, helping us with opinions, you may even be able to do things like…well I don’t want to go too far because we’ve got a lot of irons in the fire and I’m not really supposed to talk about all of them yet.

We really really are serious about it, we want you guys to be heavily involved in the game, way more than you’ve ever been able to be involved before. Your involvement in the game to date is generally running guilds. That’s not enough. That’s my opinion. That’s why almost everything in Age of Discovery can be completely customized. You can customize the Merc[enaries], you can customize the Tradeskill Apprentices, Reforging is all about customization, Dungeon Maker is all about you making dungeons. We’re opening a big door with this.

There is a lot to this extended podcast, including discussion about the Beta process, being more receptive to Test feedback from both the Beta and the Test servers, and much more.

When asked on the EQ2 Forums about the future of EQ2 beyond Age of Discovery, SmokeJumper had this to say:

I think you’re going to like a lot of what is coming.

Sorry to be cryptic. Some of it I promised I wouldn’t divulge until PR and marketing are ready. Other stuff just needs to wait its turn to talk about until the dust settles after our current launch.

But we’re doing some very cool R&D on a new kind of feature right now, and we’re also working up some player-oriented programs that could let you make a big impact on the game. More soon.

and in a thread entitled State of the Game, SmokeJumper had this:

Please check out my Producer’s Letter that’ll appear on launch day (Tuesday). I’ll let it stand for itself, but I think you’ll be interested in checking the game out after you read it.

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Comments (31)

  • Brigh

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    In game polls are fine, but let us see the results!

    Reply

  • Fazz

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    @Brigh
    Listen to the podcast, that was brought up specifically and Smokejumper said he intends to.

    Reply

  • Ardur

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    hey guys, we suck at making games, we made everything customizable so you can make it while you pay for it!

    brilliant

    Reply

  • Breanna

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    take one please on how we feel about this new xpac :) cuz most want NEW content not oo doesnt fp look nice now :) giggles!

    Reply

  • Dragonhearted

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    I think the posts on the official forums calling for this guy’s immediate resignation may have something to do with him wanting to listen to the players now. Too little too late in my opinion, will come back in a year and see where things are at.

    Reply

  • Isest

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    This was my top talking point of the day. I felt that smokejumper basically said, I don’t like what I read on our forums because of the trolls. I was like well you don’t like reading that folks are upset. In game polls will be nice, but if they don’t ask the hard questions your not going to get anywhere.

    Its fun to put in polls about station cash items, but I bet we will never see a poll going hey do you like dungeon finder, do you like it do you use it.

    It will be interesting to see what really happens. The divide between the customer base and dev base still exists, and the total lack of communication is still there. I do hope it changes for the best, and that entire discussion was not smoke and mirrors.

    Reply

  • Stringer

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    By any name it’s obvious the boards (and even some of our favorite fan sites) are heavily populated by a very vocal minority. Customers rarely nail precisely what they REALLY want in words so much as they say what they think they may like. Because the advice is colored by speculation following the vocal minority guarantees more miss than hit. SJ knows this and finally wants to improve the feedback loop. They’ll still need idea sources like the forums and their creative teams, but they can get a confirmation before committing too many resources.

    Personally, I’m just not “excited” about EQ2 anymore. I hope it will come back soon.

    Reply

  • milliebii

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    You have to remember that in future the poll will include all the Free to Play people too, that could skew the outcome from what long term players expect.

    Reply

  • Kaufman

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    I don’t want an endless morass of player made content to slog through. I want some new lands, some new beasts, some new music, some new quests, some new memories. Killing Orcs in a Crushbone clone on my RoK mob avatar while searching for the exit portal isn’t going to cut it.

    Reply

  • Whystherumgone

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    I think smokeblower did a good job addressing AOD value. I understand it is not new content. I understand that some people do not want that type of expansion. But by separating out features from content it truly does make it optional. There is nothing in current dov content that requires aod… Expansions are a balance. Look at dov. Primarily grp, difficult instance/raid content. Not really for the masses at launch. So I feel like they do try to cater to as many tastes they can. Are they successful every time? No. I hated moors, guk, palace that entire expansion. Was I the only one? No. Did peeps like it? Yeah some did (I think). It’s probably some of the most underused more recent content though. Feature expansions tend to get used lots more over the course of a game though cause its so dynamic. It can spand multiple expansions. Eq1 has done this pretty well.

    Reply

  • Whystherumgone

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    Also if you believe him smokejumper did say he wants to push more content to live for free. More steady refreshing of content rather than once or twice a year. Which personally I would rather have. Optional features expansions and every two months a new Free content. That sounds pretty good.

    Reply

  • camelotcrusade

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    In-game polls are a great idea. I am constantly sending my /feedback on this and that, and it would be nice to know when I am responding to something they actually want to know.

    Reply

  • bhagpuss

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    It’s a looong podcast but it’s worth a listen. Some very interesting stuff in there. I think it’s a big ask to get attention for EQ2 from a wider potential audience than those already playing it but I hope they can make some headway with the new direction because the alternative is steady decline.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    If the SOE staff, not just SmokeJumper, were engaging players on the forums, and unilateral decisions weren’t being made that negatively affect gameplay, the trolling would die down to a dull roar. There will always be trolling.

    Reply

  • Grimmond

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    THOSE FTP people are PROBABLY the next long term players. I suspect that the negative players will not be here much longer and a good protion of them have already left but just hang around the foreums to troll.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    People do forget that, even if they skip AoD, they will still get new dungeons and raids in February.

    Reply

  • B0lster

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    For those sensing disappointment in this “expansion” that will eventually be worth $40 when new content rolls out in the future: How many times has EQ2 been changed and the player base (in spite of ALL the negativity that they could throw at the game) stuck with it? How many times have players bashed EQ2 and yet continue to play it?
    OF COURSE the game has its flaws! But NOTHING is going to change if Sony doesn’t receive more intellectual feedback from its playerbase. Nobody can make the change if the only communication is the bashing of character. Sony’s making a big step with this “xpack” so either put up or shut up.

    Reply

  • Disgruntled

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    I haven’t posted 1 thing in the first 6 years of playing this game. I was moderately content with the direction. But, when the re-itemization issues, then the DoV mess of unplayable instances in DoV at launch, then the jacked raid/instance progression, now the UnExpansion with countless hours spent on (IMO) a wasted, nostalgic zone with no endgame content, I am numb and became vocal.

    I think SJ has run this game into the ground. I understand new zones are coming out in Feb (IIRC). Why would SJ direct his team to work on Freeport instead of putting in new content? I can’t understand how this would make the player population happy. Sure, there is some nostalgia…not for me though. I played EQ1 for about 2 weeks (which is 1 week longer then I played WoW when it came out).

    Every Expac, up until now, has been either a level increase or 50 AA increase. This one just throws 20 more AA at us…WEAK. My guild, which is # 4-6 server-wide on AB, is slowing bleeding out. I can’t imagine us surviving much longer.

    @Feldon – Good point about trolls on the official forum and the lack of dialogue between the devs and players. Open dialogues only help create a good product meeting customers’ desires/wants.

    Side jab at the dev team: I wish they put in 25% as much art time on stuff not going on the SC Market…

    Reply

  • Wanda_Clamshucker

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    I have to admit, it was a very well done interview. All of the hard questions were asked and SJ answered them. I will grudgingly give kudos that he seemed to answer with honesty and also acknowledged that they’ve screwed up by not listening to feedback in the past. There seemed to be less spin and more a sense that I was listening to an actual person having a conversation and not just a SOE puppet.

    Now then.

    Why did it take the cusp of the release of AoD for him to do some community outreach when the forums have been on frakking fire for weeks? Sales. They know full well their December sales are not going to reach what they projected so SJ is prostrating himself to try and mitigate some of that.

    Now, I like the admissions of guilt. It gives satisfaction to hear it straight from the Senior Producer’s mouth that they screwed up. I’ve always been a strong critic of SOE’s long time stance to use silence as an operating CR tool, and this interview was like watching them eat crow pie for while.

    Now we wait and see. That’s all we can do. I love the game, I hate the management team and what they’ve been up to for the last 2 years. Let’s hope this is a turn-around point.

    Reply

  • Cuteypie

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    I can’t say much (I’m not the one who knows all the techy aspects of the game) but what I can say is that AoD is what you make of it. There’s really no reason to say “I hate AoD just because there’s no new content and I’ve never tried it and I don’t really care about lore,” but sometimes people do. Sometimes you need an expansion for updates and tweaks. And frankly, Freeport isn’t the easiest city to navigate right now. :P

    It is somewhat uplifting that SJ and the team want to add polls and such, but as someone mentioned above, they need to ask the really important questions instead of the fluffy filler ‘oh, that’s cool’ stuff. So try out AoD (it is going free-to-play, play it for free) and THEN decide what you think. Then you know whether all this bashing and crashing was really worth it.

    Reply

  • Isest

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    Rofl AOD is not free its 40 bucks

    Reply

  • Fetchem

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    I totally agree with you disgruntled. First time in 6 years I’ve posted on here or the forums about anything and I’m already considered a troll. 6 posts regarding having to have a subscription to beta test AoD!? So bronze and silver EQ2X players couldn’t play, even if they were accepted:

    Hello there Dorian,

    I apologize for the inconvenience in regards to your issue, but you are correct, and will need to have a paid subscription or membership for EverQuest II in order to be allowed admittance to the Age of Discovery beta.

    For more information, please refer to the following Knowledge Base Article: http://soe-ing.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/30388

    Please let me know if you have any other questions or issues and I will be happy to assist you. Give us a call at 858-537-0898 Monday through Friday, 10 am to 7 pm Pacific time.

    Thank you.

    Sean F.
    Technical Support Representative
    Sony Online Entertainment

    That’s what irked me more than anything, since I got invited just 3 days before 12-6 release…took a day to even get a C.S. response and that was it. Subbed for over 4 years on live, spent thousands of SC since going to EQ2X and yet we now want more money to test AoD, What!!? The only thing that even remotely interested me was beastlord, but now I don’t even care.

    Um there’s plenty of bronze and silver vets that have masters/ fabled gear attuned that have let their gold sub lapse or just bought unlockers… You know Smokey the ones you forced us to buy when Velious released with quest rewards all atleast legendary. You want to survive Velious, then buy unlockers, go gold, or die, lol.

    Smokey we do participate already, remember who helped fix the catastrophie that was and still is Velious? The players fixed it and went around finding all the bugs/ horrid itemizations etc….after we all told you not to release it that way….Think that kinda killed the Moral you talk about as well. Oh and that extra free content you promised if we bought Velious, guess waiting almost a year wasn’t long enough, so since I won’t be playing, guess I did pay for Velious, but received only half the product which is supposedly still coming some day? Boy wish I could do that with my landlord, utilities and supermarket. Sounds like Wimpy from Popeye cartoons.

    Devs seem to have no enthusiasm, almost like they know Smokey is charging in the wrong direction, but they have to do what they are told. I mean I’m highly competetive as well and I hate to break the news to ya Smoke, but I would think EQ2 development is a team, not solo sport:) You make it sound like it’s all about you.

    Oh well, I just played that other game no one wants to hear about….that beta was free and thoroughly enjoyable. I must be classified as super troll now and that’s why alot of us vets keep our opinions to ourselves.

    Reply

  • XK

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    My problem is that SJ uttered more than one mea culpa (as well as a few ‘well, this stuff was already in the pipelines’) when DoV came out and people were upset about a lot of the issues with it. This was followed by promises that, now that DoV (part 1) was delivered, everything would be getting better, he would be able to put his awesome producer plan in place, and we’d be seeing great things.

    So, we’re now at the end of 2011, and I have not seen anything from the dev team this year that I would describe as awesome. Badly thought out, poorly implemented, barely tested… these are all phrases that instead spring to mind.

    Reply

  • XK

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    err… lost part of my comment, so here’s the missing text:

    “My problem is that SJ uttered more than one mea culpa (as well as a few ‘well, this stuff was already in the pipelines before I became producer’) when DoV came out and people were upset about a lot of the issues with it”

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Reply

  • Wubs

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    There are not really trolls, more like constant whiners who’ll whine about virtually anything that SoE decides to add or not add. And it sucks since there are some really genuine people on the boards that have helpful opinions completely reduced to nothing due to like 20 whiners storm the place. And no, they don’t add anything helpful since their ideas are concentrate solely on what will benefit them alone.

    I’m personally pleased that SoE is adding more stuff like this. Those who say “I got nothing to do since i beat all HM zones”. Well not everyone has cleared everything. My guild just cleared all EM Launch stuff except Statue of Rallos Zek. After that we’re heading to Drunder EM. I’m sure 90% of the playerbase feels the same way.

    Reply

  • Wubs

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    Oh I forgot to add that the only thing I’m disappointed in is the price. $40 is way too much for a couple of features. Should have been $20.

    Reply

  • AlienShine

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    I really liked TSO tbh, was the expansion I started playing EQ2. Lots of dungeons and all different difficulty, that really standed out for me and started the love for EQ2. The raids in TSO are also very memorable to me besides the chessboard fight in the expansion after. I don’t play anymore since DoF release and AoD does not want me to go back one bit !

    Though, still reading Wire for the hope of better times.
    It has become very clear to me SOE just ain’t capable of running a triple A MMO title, all the vagueness, ugh.

    Reply

  • Daffodil

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    Polls are a great idea, provided they’re done fairly. They should be on the launcher, so that every account gets one vote per question. The questions need to be carefully phrased (no “Do you still kick your dog?” types) with sufficient variety for meaningful responses. SOE’s reaction to those polls should then be visible. When they opened the X server, they said it was in direct response to the survey, yet there was nothing in that survey which to me indicated anything of the kind. The invitation to complete the survey was also only given on American servers.

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    The in game polls are definitely a good idea since they’re going to engage more of the actual player base then the official forum (just a small number although there are at least some people there who geniunely seem to enjoy the game). Or the dedicated fansites (mostly insular, troll filled and generally uninspiring – I’m left wondering if they keep playing EQ2 purely to satisfy some masochistic tendencies.

    In short they’re not going to inspire anyone to pick the game up in the way a site like EQ2Daily did when it was going, just download a podcast from there from their first 40 or so shows and its hard not to want to jump into EQ2).

    Normally I’d say listening to the player base is a good thing, but gameplay and immersion are less likely to be asked for then more efficient ways to farm experience/gear/tokens with the current channels.

    I’m not sure though what they will get from listening better to the actual playerbase, as no matter what people want the gameplay and direction still has to come from the dev team. Here I feel they are more worried about not nerfing current players then worrying about bad gameplay, hence clumsy/bad mechanics like the current crit chance system or the way the low level gear was handled.

    Reply

  • Daffodil

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    Murfalad said: “Normally I’d say listening to the player base is a good thing, but gameplay and immersion are less likely to be asked for then more efficient ways to farm experience/gear/tokens with the current channels.”

    The difference is that with every account having an opinion expressed, it means the thoughts of the actual majority will become known, as opposed to those of the ones making the most noise.

    Reply

  • Ray

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    What is the point of polling if we are kept in the dark about a great deal of game mechanics. Its about time SOE documented the combat/spell mechanices of this game so that we can all benefit from the knowledge that, at present, is only available to people ‘in the know’. I have an astronomical amount of Play time on my Ranger and am fed up of the fudging and goal post shifting that SOE does. It is a historical fact that, without transparency, any system will be abused by those who control it. Its not that SOE are ‘Evil’ Just that they are human. DOCUMENT THE COMBAT MECHANICS PROPERLY and you will get

    1) Informed Feedback
    2) a lot less trolling and mythical information on forums
    3) a lot less Eliteism in the game
    4) A lot less people leaving the game in disgust.
    5) Less space to Hide for cheats and exploiters.

    I accept that a lot of people dont want to be bothered with the Maths and why should they but for those of us who dont like being in the dark PLEASE turn the lights on!

    Reply

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