Feedback and Communication
Between the Community and Kingsisle
We all love feedback and communication when it comes to our releationship with Kingsisle. Most likely we have already given feedback at one point since we first entered the game. It could be in the form of a video on Youtube, threads or replies on a forum, or just chatting in game about what would we like to see changed. More often than not, we get the feeling that the developers don’t listen or care about us. But is this true? Are they really as ignorant as many players portray them to be or are they actually listening to us?
This article will be divided in two sections – one targeted to players and another to Kingsisle.
Combining them together, the article should help us:
- understand why we often think that KI ignores our feedback;
- provide you with some helpful tips of do’s and don’ts to craft a good feedback thread/post/article/video (we will call these a “post” in the rest of this article).
Take your time
It’s hard to say what the most important thing is for making a good feedback post, but taking your time is definitely part of it. Good quality posts don’t simply appear in a few minutes; it can take hours or days to make one. You should always start with brainstorming – thinking about the key points which you’re going to talk about.
Personally, it always takes me days to finish the brainstorming phase. I’m never sitting in front of a piece of paper, but I’m just thinking about the topic during the day. I just came to the point where I’m doing it subconsciously. As such, it doesn’t have any effect on my daily life, yet I’m still thinking and crafting the outlook of a post.
After the brainstorming phase is finished, go ahead and write it down. Finish writing the post, but don’t click submit right away. First, read through it once or twice. You’ll find some typos, mistakes and maybe even some missing things. You can even leave the draft for a day or two to “reset” yourself and re-read everything with a fresh mind.
Feedback is usually the result of negative ingame experiences. Don’t let the hate and anger get to your head. Having an amazing and thought-through reply won’t help you at all if you start swearing and sending developers to hell.
You might think it’s harmless, but look at it from the following perspective. Would you like to hang out/listen to someone in real life who’s just bad-mouthing you while trying to help you? Would you enjoy having an instructor who swears at you everytime you make a mistake?
Don’t assume the past
This is one of the common mistakes when people discuss various things/trends. “Since thing X happened, the game doesn’t have as many players…” While the second part about the lesser amount of players is true, this thing X isn’t necessarily the reason for it. You might fool and convince some people with this, but the ones that matter and know their business will see you as bluffer who needs to somehow prove their own point.
We can only speculate about causes and consequences. KingsIsle, on the other hand, has actual data. They know exactly when the biggest declines occurred and they definitely don’t need our speculations about this. Not to mention that game updates aren’t the only reason why people leave. Of course, some portion leaves because of this, but there are far more things behind that:
- The market is oversaturated with computer games. The situation now is completely different from how it was 8 years ago.
- There is way more variety when it comes to gaming platforms. While PC’s are still really popular, there are console alternatives and a mobile market which is rapidly gaining popularity.
- People move on… they’re starting high school, college, getting families. They simply don’t have as much time/energy as they used to have.
- People take breaks from the game. “I’ll skip only one month and than I’ll be back…” Then another month passes… and another… and suddenly they forget about the game or get other hobbies.
Offer a solution
While it’s perfectly fine to write a post that only states problems, it’s much better to also offer a solution. Identifying the problem is the easy part since it’s often pretty obvious which things need to be tweaked/changed. The hard part is coming up with a good solution. Keep in mind that the difference between good and great feedback is often in well-thought-out solutions. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. You can’t just randomly add/remove things from the game because you think that would be best for example.
One thing you should do is remove the bias toward your favourite school. We all have our favourite school and it’s understandable that we want the best for it. However, this isn’t the way to go in constructive critcism.
Think about negatives
When stating the changes you would like to see, you always need to think about negative consequences. If we want to see a buff to certain spells, we need to be careful not to make them too strong. The same thing apply for nerfing spells: while all of us would love to see Loremaster and Rampage being nerfed, we need to be careful to not make them completely useless.
Programming is not easy
Coding plays a big role in whether implementation/change is possible or not. Only the developers know about game stability and how certain changes would affect other things. Maybe they like some ideas, but it’s simply too hard to implement them without causing additional problems. We need to understand which things require additional coding and which things don’t to see what kind of feedback has more of a chance of getting implemented.
For example, nerfing/buffing spells should be an easy task, since it’s a matter of changing the values. Fixing the turn system on the other side requires way more attention and effort. We have wanted changes to the turn system for such a long time and we’re only getting it after all these years. Is it because of KingsIsle ignorance or is it something else? We can’t know what’s going behind the scenes… We can’t know whether there were problems in programming or something completely different. Remember how massive problems appeared with the reshuffle update (enchanting mutations and dissapearing tc’s)? This was only one spell getting re-programmed. Now imagine how many potential issues changing the core mechanic such as the turn system can bring.
You’re not always right
It’s completely understandable that we all think that our own ideas/feedback are good and flawless. But that’s not always the case. You need to open yourself up and accept criticism and feedback about your feedback. Of course everyone would love that the game would implement their ideas, but we need to become united. We need to work together to come up with best possible solution.
I’ve noticed that this is generally a huge issue among the community. Instead of opening ourselves up, a lot of users become really defensive and remain stubborn with their own thoughts. This is really hypocritical, since people are often accusing KingsIsle of not listening to what we say.
While a lot of feedback, even from regular users, gets noticed, having a name in the community might increase your chance of being spotted or taken more seriously. Like it or not, that’s just the way it is – and there is a good reason behind this. Creating a name for yourself among the community requires an effort from you. It shows that you’re dedicated, have spent a lot of time in the game and have obtained a good understanding of its mechanics.
There is a difference between players who have 50k+ subscribers on youtube, and players who have only a few posts on a forum. Now, I don’t want to discourage anyone – I’m just trying to picture a more realistic situation.
Every well-known player was small once. Everyone started with being a random player with a few posts/videos who worked his/her way up. And trust me, even if you’re small and no one knows you, people will notice you if you’ll post high-quality content. Maybe not right away, but after repeatedly posting good content, people will start recognizing you. You just shouldn’t give up, you should work hard.
Too much interaction doesn’t exist
KingsIsle is doing a pretty good job when it comes to interacting with their players. We have Feedback fridays, #askki at their live streams and we can even see Dworgyn lurking around the forums. But there is no such thing as too much interaction. We all love to hear from KI officials and be involved in the discussion with them. It’s such a simple and costless intangible thing that can create wonders.
Maybe getting more personnel on the forums – to provide us opportunity to interact with more KI employees? Getting involved in more topics and not just technical ones. There are plenty of topics across the forums and leaving one reply a day can cost you only few minutes. It can be as easy as adding 2 cents to What did you accomplish today? or more complex by suggesting Best Wand for Champion Death. It doesn’t matter whether the replies offer some insight or are simple spammy posts – the community love to interact with game developers.
Two way communication
This one is a step forward from normal interaction and there are most likely some limitations here. People often leave feedback across the various platforms and they’d love to be included in KI’s thought process. We don’t necessary need too deep explanations – it can be as simple as “we’re considering to make these changes and would like to hear your opinion about that”. It’s similar to Feedback friday, yet completely different with lot of additional value.
Changes to Bad Juju are the perfect example of why two way communication is required. While Kingsisle did listen to community and the problems we stated, their approach wasn’t correct. The original (changing pip cost of tc) intention (to nerf bad juju) was great, but it didn’t solve anything. Two way communication simply provides a higher rate to succesfuly implement changes and can result in less wasted time for figuring out (and possibly later re-programming) necessary things.
We all know them and we all know that every game has a vocal minority. I’m aware that there is a really high possibility that the PvP community falls in this category in Wizard101, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. PvE generally doesn’t suffer from unbalances, but that is the case in PvP. There is a reason why PvP players complain the most – because school/gear/spell disparity in the game hits us the most.
Of course PvE need to be taken into consideration if any changes are about to be made, but there is way more room to breathe than there is in PvP. The PvE enviroment is way more flexible and nerfing/buffing certain aspects won’t have too big of an effect on it.
Players do know the game
I agree that some feedback has unreal expectations and it’s actually good that some things don’t get implemented. But we as a community often have a feeling that the game could be more enjoyable for everyone if all of us would step together. If players and developers would step together to find best possible solutions.
I hope that this article will help us – the community – writing better and more constructive criticism and that it will give KingsIsle another perspective on feedback. Responding to each and every one migh be a bit too much, but there are a few individuals in the community that would be worth being consulted about possible implementations.
Show us that you care
Similar to interaction is showing appreciation. While KingsIsle is already doing a lot here (#askki crowns and answers, code giveaways, supporting fansites) there is always room for more. Intangible rewards can be equally satisfying than tangible ones. There are shoutouts in monthly newsletters, but why stop there?
Let us know if you implement any update that got inspiration from the community. It can be as short as leaving a link in the update notes or creating a whole new paragraph in the newsletter. It might look like a little thing that is not worth the time, but the impact can be big. Shoutouts from developers are often amazing for the user receiving it, but there is one more important thing: you show us that you’re listening to us and actually use our feedback as inspiration for the updates.
Did we miss any important steps? What do you think is most important thing when giving feedback?