Last night’s CoV adventure was plagued with system issues and hiccups, to the point that I was apologizing for monopolizing the GM’s time in my petitions. It was as I saw the floating police lights appear in front of me for the third time that night that I realized how very far we’ve come in the customer satisfaction arena.
Long long ago, in a digital world far far away, I was a guide on EQ. I was also constantly in trouble while doing my job. The game was bug-ridden, although in all fairness it was a new market. However, you could be playing happily, then get killed, and your corpse, for example, was gone. For those in the know, that’s the reason Necromancers were given the spell Summon Corpse – because it was a constant petition. During my guide career, I frequently, almost always, summoned people’s lost corpses to them. This was strictly against policy. For the most part, you told them to suck it up and find it, and were only allowed to summon it if it was stuck under the ground or in a wall (which was often enough). Had they croaked while swimming the ocean, or something happened that simply made their corpse annoying to get to, you were supposed to tell them to go find it. Role-playingly, if possible. That’s just the way it was. Most of my EQ playing career was spent on the Test server, where we had no guides/GMs at all, unless you knew the secret handshake, and so when it slowly did get better in live server land we had no interaction. But even as of a few years ago, you were better off using one of the now many corpse retreval methods than contact a GM.
I frequently took vacations from EQ to play other games, and was always amazed at how friendly and willing to help the GMs were. It was a shock, and it shouldn’t be. If you go to Denny’s, and the waiter stinks, and you complain to the manager, you expect a sympathetic ear. After all, you’re paying for this! But in MMORPG’s, there is an prejudice by the players that the GMs are lazy, indifferent, hostile, or all three, and your time would be better spent just solving the issue yourself. Back at CoH’s release I remember calling for GM help, and the floating police sign swung by in ~30 min to help. I don’t recall ever asking for help in DAoC or AO, so I can’t speak to those. In WoW, the first time I contacted a GM was when I accidentally disenchanted one ring instead of another ring. When you disenchant something, it’s destroyed. I never expected the cheerful tells and being told in under three minutes that my item would be in the mail, and then seeing it there. I had a few other GM interactions as well and every one sans one was positive, quick, and with a definate answer. Not the “I’ll refer it to my server lead” answer I as a guide hated but was required to give.
Now in CoV, I had buggy missions, buggy NPCs, and a video issue (my pet window refused to display). Every GM was there within 5 minutes, was extremely helpful (first one had to re-explain to me how to reply – yes I am I true noob again), and helped me out. The last one of the night flagged a mission to completed for me, since the mission flag was impossibly set 200 yds under the ground, with no way to get to there. They seemed amused that I felt this would cost me something, either cash, inf, or loss of a story arc. I know my thoughts are not mine alone – we expect a price for customer service, because it’s not standard to us veterans. Perhaps these days, it is. I know good customer service is important to me – as a player I want to be able to get the help I need when I want it. That doesn’t mean that I get a personal dev to discuss class balancing with, but when I have a bugged quest item, or stupidly sell something, or some other feature of the game goes pling that someone is there to offer a helping hand to get out of my issue.