Developer Recognition

Warhammer Online is doing something pretty cool with four lucky bloggers: Gaarawarr, Mykiel, Shadow-war, and Werit.  They invited the four to visit Mythic Entertainment and sit down with the WAR Design team for interviews and discussion.  There is a real heavy emphasis on interactivity via Twitter too.  I love seeing stuff like this because not only is it a fan dream to meet developers but bloggers are fonts of communication… so everybody wins.  The event got me thinking about developer recognition regarding bloggers.

There are a lot of ways a developer can recognize a blogger.  I would say Werit and Co. hit the jackpot, but even a developer dropping by to comment at the blog, re-Tweeting a blog post from the game’s official Twitter, or a small email from the company saying “we read you and appreciate your posts” can all count.  A developer granting an interview request or offering to give an in-game tour of new content are good forms of developer recognition too.  There are plenty of ways to do this without even creating a small shadow of bias.

For me, developer recognition is like a potion of energy.  I love blogging, and I definitely do not need developer recognition.  However, there are plenty of times where it feels like my ideas are not working, the words aren’t coming, and I have nothing interesting to write about.  Some small form of developer recognition was instant immunity from the dreaded blogger’s block.  It was important to me to get some developer recognition because I know for a fact it has helped shape the blogger I have become. Still I wanted, internally, to make sure it was less important than the other reasons I write like love for the game and simply communicating my thoughts.

Being comparatively new to the blogging scene, I wanted to gather some veteran bloggers’ thoughts on this subject.  I asked these bloggers one simple question without giving any explanation to the terms: Is developer recognition of your blogging important?

Syncaine, over at Hardcore Casual said:

Is it nice, sure. Is it important, not at all.

While its nice to be mentioned in something like a Spotlight for DarkFall, the blog is more for me to document my time in-game and what I’m thinking about in terms of the MMO genre than a real attempt to shape a game or change some developer’s mind. As I’ve been told the few times I’ve spoken to devs, a good dev team is always 2-3 steps ahead of whatever changes have just been announced, and while it’s always fun to react to the latest patch, I know enough to understand that what was released today is usually only one piece of a larger puzzle.

That said I think in many ways blogs are similar to fansites in some ways, and its a good PR move for any game to interact with their fan community, even if its just silly stuff like what Mythic did for Warhammer, or whenever a blog/site gets to do a dev interview.

Tobold, at Tobold’s MMORPG Blog said:

I’d classify developer recognition as “nice to have” rather than “important”. Of course being recognized, or even receiving freebies from game companies is flattering. But if you value that too highly, you risk to change your writing to please the developers, which can be damaging to the quality of your blog.

Beau Turkey, part of the duo at SpouseAggro writes:

Is it important? Of course. HOW important depends on the blogger and what their goals are for the blog, but I have not met a blogger/podcaster yet that gets no thrill out of it.

Some companies are better at recognizing scene players than others. I’m always kind of amazed when companies don’t recognize their best fans, being that it is essentially free advertising. I can see how some developers might be afraid of officially patting volunteers on the back, but the damage has got to be worse when they don’t.

On the other hand, bloggers must do a little reaching out to the developers if they want it to happen. Of course we must remember to go through the correct channels (PR people, community managers) so do a little research before sending an email. Consider how many contacts or mentions the average MMO developer sees in an average week, so standing out seems to help.

So yes, I can tell you that from my experience and from seeing others go through the same thing that developer recognition is a thrill and can inspire you to do more.

Tipa, headmistress at West Karana said:

Oh, no. I think developer recognition hurts blogs, especially hobby blogs like mine. You start thinking your words have weight and that your opinion counts when of course it does not. Having a dev say something nice about your blog makes you start craving that kind of favorable attention, more and more. You become in danger of just becoming a willing mouthpiece for the company line.

Blogs, like outlets for real journalism, need to maintain a separation. More so — real journalism is assumed to have at least some objectivity, but anyone can start a blog, come up with a corny name and spout off whatever nonsense occurs to them. To be taken seriously — and taken seriously by developers — bloggers need to know what they are. Bloggers are the vox populi. If a blogger isn’t speaking for themselves as a player, then what ARE they speaking for? If you cosy up to devs, you may get more access, but you won’t get their respect.

Gordon, ground control at We Fly Spitfires wrote in:

To me, developer recognition isn’t important because I never, ever thought it would ever happen :) I’ve had some developers comment on articles and it’s always delighted me but honestly I was just shocked they found the posts :P I don’t write because I think I can influence the industry, I just write because I enjoy commentating on it.

Syp, of Bio Break (busy with a new baby, congrats!), replied:

Short answer: nope.  Long answer: it’s only important if you write blog posts for the goal of getting that kind of recognition, which I don’t think anyone would do.  But is dev recognition of bloggers in general important?  Absolutely it is.  If CMs really want to promote their game, it helps to acknowledge the folks who are already doing so, for free — the fansite operators, the wiki admins, podcast personalities and bloggers.  It doesn’t cost much to give them a nod, and it’s always warmly appreciated by the fans.

Thank you guys for the responses.   It seemed to me that most of the responses came back on the same page.  Developer recognition is a boost, but not a drive.  But, it’s still a really good boost and reinforcement to keep on trucking.  I hope Gaarawarr, Mykiel, Shadow-war, and Werit have an absolute blast with Mythic.  I will be looking forward to seeing their thoughts and sharing their excitement.

–Ravious
I can’t believe this is the same car

17 thoughts on “Developer Recognition

  1. Bhagpuss

    Depends on your personal embarrassment factor, I would say. I can only say, from my limited personal experience in comics fandom in the 1980s, that having the people whose work I was reviewing and critiquing recognise my name and comment on stuff I wrote creeped me out to the point where I stopped writing in fanzines.

    It’s all a LOT easier now we all hide behind pseudonyms.

  2. brett

    I wasn’t aware that WAR still had developers. The number of long standing bugs is astronomical, maybe the few remaining should be writing code not schmoozing with bloggers.

  3. Syncaine

    Just a quick clarification, when I say “the silly stuff WAR did”, I was referring to the LotD puzzle stuff they sent out, not inviting the four bloggers. That act is certainly not silly, but rather a very awesome thing to do.

    Just don’t leave the office until they promise to add a third faction guys!

  4. Cedia

    All it does is show that Mythic has no clue what to do with their game and is now grasping for free ideas.

  5. openedge1

    Interesting to see all the “differing” viewpoints in comments here alone.

    I am a newb to the game, and personally, it has peaked my interest (actually, I really like the game). But, not just that, the companies commitment to their fanbase (even though they may be small now thanks to bombing on launch) impresses.

    As to Dev recognition, it can hurt as well as help. When I found that my comments on my blog about AoC had been used as talking points on Craig’s blog as a way for him to cover his own ass…it really irked me.

    Wasn’t too long after that where I left the game and quit blogging about AoC.

    Dev/Blog interaction is just thin ice.

    1. Ravious Post author

      That’s why I like Beau’s response a lot… because he covers the need for *communication* between the blogger and dev apart from the recognition. With some form of relationship, the dev can figure out the best ways to recognize that blogger. Without it, like you said, the dev can “recognize” the blogger in a way that is destructive.

  6. Frank

    The game must be doing better if there are still bitter haters that like to take their jabs at Mythic no matter what they do. They have flaws and made mistakes with WAR, but give them a little credit. Geez.

    Mythic’s always been good at communicating with their playerbase and humanizing themselves – probably to a fault, as listening to them a little too much during development and post-release has cost them dearly.

    They’ve always done this with the fansites and blogs – I know from personal experience. They’ve invited fansite folks to their studio before, and have done things like sending little packages to bloggers, and conducting ventrilo Q&A’s after tests. I wish more developers did this with blogs and fansites because they pretty much run on pure passion and their likes and dislikes for the game. Recognizing that is a great thing.

    No doubt Mythic has stumbled a bit with WAR, and harsh lessons have been learned, but I’m glad they’ve never departed from their strategy of recognizing community contributions.

    1. Pardoz

      “Give them a little credit”? I think my Iron-O-Metre just exploded, given the little issue they’re having with billing people thirty times for a month’s subscription…

      1. Ravious Post author

        My biggest problem with this is how they are asking, allegedly, people affected to ask their bank to waive the fees.

        1. Pardoz

          Worse than that, they’re assuring people the banks will waive the fees on their own:

          “We have confirmed with our vendor that players who have been charged multiple times for their subscriptions should start seeing a reversal of charges within 24-36 hours. We anticipate that once the charges have been reversed, any fees that have been incurred should be refunded as well.”

          But if your friendly local branch of the gnomes of Zurich don’t graciously waive the fee out of the goodness of their hearts:

          “If after 36 hours, there are still incorrect charges or fees on your account, please follow these instructions:

          Please begin by contacting your financial institution and explain to them that you were incorrectly charged multiple times and, as a result, over drafted. Most financial institutions will reverse these charges.”

          Mythic: Putting the ‘fantasy’ back into fantasy games…

        2. Beau

          Pardoz, that’s not “fantasy”, that’s reality. If anyone charges you without you wanting them to charge you, this is the exact process you go through. This is common knowledge.

          They admitted what they did, and will first refund your money. *IF* that doesn’t work, they are telling you exactly what you can do, as millions of people know.

          Trust me, I agree that what Mythic did was *very stupid*, but also an *accident*. What they are instructing people to do is all they can do.

        3. Pardoz

          “Fantasy” is pretending the banks will happily refund the overdraft and other charges caused by Mythic’s mistake.

      2. Frank

        That’s pretty much bad timing on their part, right as I posted this comment. D’oh! It certainly makes my points weaker. But I’m not above admitting when things be done fucked up.

        Unfortunately, highly visible mistakes like this one have cost Mythic subscribers to WAR. But to discount the credit they deserve for doing things for the community (the original point of the post, btw) is to do what they actually do right a disservice.

        My point is, the very legitimate gripes people have with how the game has turned out should not overshadow things they were done right, or have always been done right – like how their community team has approached their playerbase in terms of “recognition”.

        I guess I just like to take a more even-handed approach to things, rather than the two extremes of “huge success” and “epic failure”, when judging developers. If you believe I’m giving them far too much credit, if you know where to look, you’ll see where I’ve taken them to task as much as I’ve praised them.

  7. Beau

    Hey! Thanks for asking me for my answer! I feel honored. And I am glad you picked up on what I attempted to point out, that bloggers and writers need to do their part.

    Now that I am writing for Massively, too, I am seeing how many players/scene people truly think that all of the blame and all of the work are all dependent on the developer. When I played in bands for years and toured around, the fans were incredible in the way they helped spread the word. I would literally play shows where the headliner, a band with a lot of financial backing, would have less people show than we (the opener) had. Word of mouth and fan support is needed and can often do more good than *any* advertising campaign.

    I also get to see how every mistake can be seen as “evidence” that a game or company is doing “poorly.” Yet, when you talk to the developers, they can show you piles of evidence that show otherwise. I think players just tend to take comments sections or forums as pure evidence that provides them with “the truth”, despite the fact that the game is continuing to go on and on (something that alone can be proof of a game doing pretty good. If you don’t think so, try to maintain even a tiny MMO! hehe)

    That’s why I think it’s important for a blogger to do their part in communicating: 9 times out of 10 the “truth” is not what the public thinks at ALL.

    Beau

  8. We Fly Spitfires

    I liked Beau’s answer a lot and I think he’s right that bloggers need to reach out if they want engagement from developers. I guess the thought has never really occurred to me because I always assumed develops weren’t really interested in the thoughts and opinions of bloggers (which is probably not true).

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  10. Shadow War

    As one of the people mentioned here, I figured I’d chime in. :)

    It’s not vital to my blogging. I’m extremely nice, and a very satisfying feeling is the result. It’s like getting that “A” on a final exame and then having your parents tell you how proud you are. Or seeing the pride in your wife’s eyes after telling her the project you’ve been working on for the last year and a half just finished and you came in significantly under-budget. Just as I don’t write to get comments from readers, or to pull in big numbers of hits, I don’t write for anyone else. I purely write for me.

    I don’t blog to get developer/industry people to change their opinions, or believe that my view is the word of God. Getting their acknowledgement is great, and the trip I got to partake in was a hell of a lot of fun, and very very enlightening.

    When Frank says that Mythic has always been an incredibly human organization with strong ties to it’s communities, he’s not joking. I’ve never played a game that has been as active in communication with it’s player-base, or fostered as strong of a community atmosphere as they do. Yes, some mistakes have been made with the game itself, not everyone was happy with the product, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

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