Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Jeff Vogel: This Is Me Trolling You

Posted: January 6, 2011 in Misc.

Thanks to Twitter, I stumbled upon a blog post written by indie game developer, Jeff Vogel. The post was titled “Three Reasons Creators Should Never Read Their Forums.

Go ahead and read it. If anything, you’ll have the same reaction I did: You’ll laugh.

Ok you done?

Good.

I think Jeff here has a skewed point of view. On one hand, he has a forum where people can discuss his games and whatnot. But he doesn’t read it. In fact, the whole post is about why creators should NEVER read their forums!

I was about to write him a comment, but I figure I would just post my thoughts on here, since he will probably auto-delete my comment for “trolling.”

Customer service is the same, in ANY industry. Veterinary medicine (my field) is a hell of a lot different than software development, but the premise of customer service is exactly the same: Keep your customers happy, and they will keep paying you.

Of course, there will be trolls. Trolls exist in all forms of business. Here are my common troll complaints, in the veterinary field:

On Pricing: “You charge HOW MUCH for neutering?
On The Fact We Have The Word “Clinic” In Our Business Name: “You mean, you’re not free?
or
What do you mean I have to make an appointment?!
On Boarding: “What do you mean my pet needs to be vaccinated?
On Coming In For A Visit: “You mean I have to actually bring in my pet for you to diagnose him? THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!
On Wearing Gloved For Aggressive Animals: “Fluffy doesn’t bite so you don’t need to use those!
On Vaccinating Pets: “Fluffy doesn’t go outside, so therefore, she doesn’t need to be vaccinated.
On Allergies: “My pet doesn’t go outside!
On Getting Medication Even Though We Haven’t Seen The Pet In 8 Years: “Why do you need to see my pet yearly to prescribe medication????

The list goes on and on and on, and people use more colorful ways to piss us off, make us feel like shit at the end of the day, or leave an image of their beet-red face in our head for the rest of the week.

Despite all this, I still love what I do. Everyday I have a new client to complain about, someone who was idiotic or stupid. But I still love what I do.

We have a print-out hanging up in the back, where clients can’t see it. It’s this image:

This is the inside joke of practically every veterinary office. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to deal with some pissed off customer, because they want to know why their cat is vomiting. They don’t want to be charged for anything, they don’t want any tests run, they don’t want me (the technician…a nurse for animals if you will) to restrain their animal while the doctor examines them. Oh, and the cat is extremely aggressive! It’s almost like they expect us to wave a magic wand and determine what the problem is, fix it (9 out of 10 times, without medication), and then not charge them for our services.

Seem a little skewed to you? Yep, I thought so.

What in the hell does this have to do with my original point, you ask? I’m getting there.

Do we get mad at our clients? Ok, we get mad, but not to their faces. Do we tell them how we secretly wish they never were our clients? Well, not to their faces. Do we sit them down and bluntly tell them “Because you couldn’t be bothered to clean out your cat’s litter box in a month, you failed to notice the signs of a urinary obstruction which caused the death of Fluffy. GREAT JOB ASSWIPE!” No, we don’t. (At least, not to their faces.)

In plain English: We don’t treat our customers like shit, and we don’t publicly proclaim that their ranting, raving, and nonsensical logic isn’t our concern. In fact, we LIE. We tell them we care, even if we don’t. We look interested, even if we aren’t. If we let them rant and rave, and keep a straight face, they are more likely to give us business in the future. If we fight fire with fire, they will turn around and find someone else to abuse…and give their money to. In the famous words of Dr. Gregory House: “Everybody lies.”

But Jeff Vogel, in his post titled “Three Reasons Why Creators Should NEVER Read Their Forums” does exactly that.

This is why you should always word your posts thoughtfully, especially if you’re the face of something like a game. The word “never” is a very strong word. It evokes something strong. If the blog was titled “Three Reasons Why Creators Shouldn’t Obsessively Hit F5 On Their Own Forums” I wouldn’t have an issue. But it specifically stated “NEVER Read.”

So, as a gamer myself, I am in that realm of possibilities called “a potential customer.” Would I honestly want to pay money to a developer who writes such a condescending, arrogant, and disrespectful blog stating why developers should never read their own forums?

The answer is, obviously, no. I wouldn’t expect someone to come to my business after I told them, basically, I don’t give a fuck about what they have to say.

I’m going to use Square-Enix as an example here. Now before you start saying things like “Comparing SE to an indie developer is like comparing the local hamburger joint to McDonalds” I’m going to stop you.

When SE developed Final Fantasy XI, there were no official forums. There was no way to interact with the development team. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Now this could be taken one of two ways. The glass-half-empty says “SE doesn’t give a shit what we have to say, so why bother playing their game?” The glass-half-full says “SE doesn’t give a shit what we have to say, but at least they aren’t deceptive assholes about it by giving us forums they don’t even bother to read.”

I’m in the glass-half-full camp. While there weren’t official channels to communicate with the development team, I at least admired the honesty exhibited by SE by NOT giving us forums. FFXI players knew for years SE didn’t care what we had to say. It played out with every update, every expansion pack. But they didn’t hand us a forum under the premise that they did care. They simply didn’t have one.

So while Mr. Vogel here is complaining about trolls (hi, welcome to the internet. I’m trolling you right now, sir.) he is leaving up his forums for people to whine, moan, piss, and bitch about his games but not even reading them. It’s damaging to his “psyche” or whatever. He’s essentially ignoring the problem, which is NEVER good in business, especially with the internet where people can complain about you under the guise of anonymity. But even if 1 in 10 posts are good ideas, or even 1 in 100, Mr. Vogel will completely skip over that one post because he doesn’t believe he should read his own forum. He will leave that to “community managers,” because they obviously have the best track record with that sort of thing. (Should I even bother bringing up Kiara and EQ2? I thought not.)

That’s another thing: Community Managers. While they are a good idea (in theory), Mr. Vogel seems to think that a community manager is some fool-proof idea. Basically, they are a PR agent, and nothing more. They’re known to say things like “I’ll forward that to the developer” but never do. Basically, they’re hired (in some cases, volunteered) bullshitters. He thinks because HE isn’t thick skinned enough (despite the fact he says he is, we know he isn’t based on his cry-fest of a post) to deal with the masses, it should be someone else’s job. He also seems to have this grandiose idea that him and his community manager will think exactly alike 100% of the time. If a fantastic idea makes its way to the forums, he believes the community manager will report it to him, guaranteed 100%. He seems to forget the margin of error here: No two humans think exactly alike. So while the idea might seem awesome to Mr. Vogel, the community manager might think it’s absolute garbage, and skip over the post, even though this could be a major breakthrough in development, or become a key part of the game itself.

I’ll bring up SE again: They had a forum for FFXIV beta. Bugs were reported. They ignored it. Now look at the state of that game. (If you’ve been living under a rock, it’s free-to-play until further notice, the original development team was fired for poor performance, and the PS3 version is delayed indefinitely.)

Mr. Vogel seems very jaded in his post. It almost seems as if he wants his dissatisfied customers to praise him and his game, despite the fact they aren’t satisfied. I mean, the whole reason why he is stating he doesn’t read his own forums is because there are trolls.

I’m positive that the average 4chan, lolcat retard troll makes it onto the forum. Those are easily ignored, like World of Warcraft’s Trade chat channel, Everquest 2’s Level 1-9 chat channel, or Final Fantasy XI’s Whitegate chat channel. If you can’t ignore that, then you DON’T have a thick skin. But sometimes, there are just people who aren’t satisfied. If they paid you for a product, you owe them the decency of listening to them, even if they are telling you to fuck your mother. Then again, I’m old school like that. Despite the mantra that repeats in my head “The customer is always an asshole” the customer thinks I’m thinking “The customer is always right.”

If average people can do it every single day with a customer face-to-face, WHILE keeping a straight face, then you, sir, can do it from the comfort of your computer chair.

tl;dr version: Quit whining. Grow a pair. If someone is dissatisfied with you and/or your product, suck it up then walk away. If the troll persists, refuse their business then ban them from the forums. This is how real business works. If you’re making money off a product, it’s best you learn that now.

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PC only, so don’t whine. I only play consoles circa 1998 or earlier. Then I realized that PC gaming was the way to go.

1) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda announced the 5th installment of The Elder Scrolls just recently. As an Elder Scrolls FANATIC since Daggerfall, I’m really looking forward to a whole new world to explore, and eventually break. (I broke Oblivion and Morrowind using various cheats and mods. It was pretty great.)

This Game Will Be Awesome If…

– Bethesda goes back to the totally open-world aspect they had in Morrowind. While Oblivion was a great game, it was too linear. It was too “Go here and do this. You can’t do anything else until you complete this step.” In Morrowind, you could do a couple steps of one thing, and move on to something completely different with the snap of a finger.
– More voice acting. I’m sure Bethesda paid a lot of money for Patrick Stewart as the role of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, but for God’s sake, he was in only the first 10 minutes of the game! While he was awesome in that 10 minutes (his voice is just incredible and fit so well with the role), it became obvious throughout the rest of Oblivion that Bethesda blew practically their entire voice acting budget on Patrick Stewart, Sean Bean (who voiced Brother Martin, Uriel Septim VII’s only living heir to the throne), and Terence Stamp (who voiced Mankar Cameron, the so-called “leader” of the Deadric Cult, the evil villain responsible for bring Oblivion to Cyrodill) and had hardly any money left for decent voice actors or even dialogue that made sense. (Please note, I do not count Lynda Carter, who voiced all the Nord and Orc NPC women, because she is married to Bethesda CEO Robert Altmen, so I’m sure she did the work for free.)
– Dialogue that makes sense. It seemed whenever my character wandered around NPCs, they would start a conversation with each other. While this added to the realism of the game, the dialogue made absolutely no sense half the time. If they could write and voice actual conversations that made sense, it would give a whole new level of depth to the game.
– Fast Travel. I’m one of those people that hates to waste time traveling with little-to-nothing to do for more than 5 minutes. I admit, I’m a bit ADD when it comes to wandering aimlessly. The vibrant and realistic atmospheres in the Elder Scrolls series is great to look at, but when you’re spending 10s (or hundreds) of hours playing the game, that scenery gets dull, boring, and overplayed. Fast travel in Oblivion was awesome. Many Elder Scroll freaks disagree, stating it takes the immersion out of the game. I say screw em. I don’t want to spend 20 real life minutes walking somewhere and not encounter a single thing, just like I don’t want to watch my character sleep for 8 real life hours. (Ironically, the Elder Scrolls freaks who have issues with fast travel have no issues pressing a button to go to sleep, pick however many hours to sleep, wait 5 seconds, and see their character wake up. I guess that doesn’t fiddle with the immersion of the game. Sounds like a cop out to me, but that’s a complaint for a different day.)
– An ending battle I, as in my character, actually gets to participate in. Oblivion was the biggest (excuse the bluntness) cock tease in the world. SPOILER ALERT: You get to the end of the main story line. You’re in the Imperial City. Your goal is to get Brother Martin safely to the Dragonfires in the heart of the city so he can light them and finally put a stop to Oblivion entering the realm of Cyrodill. The only problem is, the city is infested with Deadra. You get Martin there, he lights the Dragonfires, and the large dragon statue inside comes to life. You get so excited to fight this fearsome beast. Then, it turns into a cutscene, as you watch Martin fight the dragon, sacrifice himself, and the main story line ends. (And they didn’t even make you Emperor afterwards!) BIGGEST COCK TEASE EVER! I want to actually participate in the final battle. This is the battle of all battles, and despite the fact I’ve done ALL the legwork in the game (closing the Oblivion gates, saving all the towns, defeating Mankar Cameron, retrieving the Emperor’s Amulet ect.), my reward is watching a cutscene?! FUCK THAT!
– User-friendly User-interface. I love the Elder Scrolls series, but the user interfaces are just flat out horrible. Bethesda really needs to take cues from other companies. The UI in Morrowind and Oblivion are very…choppy. It almost seems like the UI was an after thought in both games. I shouldn’t need a mod to correct something as crucial as the UI.
– Expansion packs. You know, those things that add tons of content on an already existing game that’s become a dying breed thanks to something called DLC?
– No DLC for stupid shit. Horse armor. Need I say more?

This Game Will Suck If…

– Bethesda goes the route of so many companies nowadays and releases stupid DLC for practically everything. If I buy a game, I expect it to be complete. Period. No Ifs, Ands or Buts about it. Don’t make me waste 50-60 bucks on a game, only to have it half-way completed and I have to purchase patches or downloads in the form of DLC in order to get the full experience of the game. And please, do NOT use a business model like Sony Online Entertainment does for Everquest II Extended.
– The ending is super anti-climactic and/or I can’t participate in the final battle. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. AGAIN!
– Specs are too high for current computers. I have an i5, 8 gigs of RAM, and an ATI Radeon HD 5770. Those aren’t beastly specs, but they’re decent. If the game exceeds even that, Bethesda is really going to be pushing out the majority of their players. They need to keep in mind who the majority of their players are: American adults on a budget affected by a recession. Not even a new Elder Scrolls game is enough to make me purchase a new PC.
– Bethesda gives in to the Fallout crowd. In my opinion, they are 2 completely separate games in 2 separate genres. The shooter community had their fun with New Vegas just released. Let the RPG nuts have our fun with The Elder Scrolls V. Leave elements of Fallout completely out of it. Work with what has worked in the past for THE ELDER SCROLLS. I don’t care about Fallout.
– A quest line even more linear than Oblivion. Don’t become Square-Enix.
– Steam-Only purchase. While Steam is a nice, nifty tool, it’s not my preferred method to play games. I prefer NOT having to subscribe to a separate EULA and ToS. I prefer NOT having to download on such slow speed. I prefer NOT having to subscribe to online service to play an offline video game. I don’t give a crap about achievements outside of WoW. I don’t need to play via Steam.

2) Everquest 2: Destiny of Velious

Everquest 2’s upteenth expansion. While it will offer nothing new or game-breaking (let’s hope, at least), it’ll be cool to see how it prevails after Senior Producer Alan “Brenlo” Crosby was fired after having inter-office affairs (allegedly) with then-Community Manager “Kiara.” (Kiara has been since moved to the position of Everquest Community Manager.) Brenlo always thought his shit didn’t stink, and with Kiara riding his…erm…. “coat-tails” (haha, get it?), the state of Everquest 2 severely declined while they were both in power. In fact, it’s the reason I quit Everquest 2 last time. (I recently went back after hearing of Brenlo’s “departure.”) Also, it’ll be interesting to see if “$med-bucks” (aka Station Cash) will have an even bigger impact on the expansion than it did for The Sentinel’s Fate.

This Expansion Will Be Awesome If…

– SoE didn’t emphasize too much on $med bucks, although my hopes aren’t high. If you read anything about the whole Freeblood race debacle, you’d know why.
– SoE focuses on PvE progression, not PvP. PvP is fun (I even play on a WoW PvP server), but the game’s mechanics are designed around PvE. No matter how much Brenlo tried to force the issue of Battlegrounds, the gear obtained from there is pretty useless in comparison to PvE gear. Not to mention, whenever they “balance” classes for PvP progression, it totally fucks with PvE. If SoE focuses on PvE, and centers their updates for this expansion around PvE, this could be a very sucessful expansion.
– Less mental retardation from special abilities/spells used by raid bosses. TSO was a nightmare. SF wasn’t so bad. Focus less on the retardation and focus more on creating difficult, but fun, bosses.
– A reason to go back to Qeynos and Freeport, the cities that started it all. If SoE really wants to be a WoW clone, then they should already be thinking up ideas to bring people back to the 2 main cities, the same way Blizzard did with their starter cities.
– The end of Station Cash and the Marketplace. I know this won’t happen, because it’s their cash cow at the moment, but a girl can dream, can’t she? Since the implementation of the Marketplace, SoE has less morals than a 15 dollar hooker. Everything is for the benefit of $med bucks. The implementation of EQ2 Extended only furthered the point.

This Game Will Suck If…

– The issues above aren’t addressed. I really don’t need to go any further than that.

3) The Sims: Medieval

I must admit, I’m far behind on the whole Sims: Medieval thing. I only found out about it fairly recently. But I loved building medieval neighborhoods, and I relished over the modthesims medieval challenge a few years back. The medieval era is one of my favorites to read about, so it will be lots of fun to see what EA has in store for us medieval geeks out there.

This Game Will Be Awesome If….

– There are no more rabbit holes. In the Sims 3, if you went to a pre-built community lot, it was a rabbit hole most likely. It was annoying to go to the book store and not actually be in the book store, but outside of it and click through a menu to buy something. Lame, lame LAME!
– Seamless neighborhood. I loved being able to walk/drive anywhere within in neighborhood in the Sims 3. Unfortunately, annoying rabbit holes and impatience of downloading a mod, then recreating all the areas to my liking ruined the game for me.
– No spyware embedded on the discs. Remember Spore?
– Create-A-Style. Create-A-Style is amazing. You can create everything to match. See a chair style you like, but hate the color? No problem! Just re-skin it!
– Medieval-esque community lots. Apothecary shop, Ye Olde Bookstore, Blacksmith ect.
– Live in my house, but don’t expect me to be responsible for you. If I’m to be a queen of a kingdom, I want a royal court. I don’t want to make them my family and have to play them and cater to their needs, too. I don’t need to be worrying about the fact that my Ladies In Wait need to take a bath or eat when I’m enjoying a performance by the court bard.
– If I purchase this game, it better be mine for keeps. I don’t want to worry about only having 5 installs on it. Otherwise, EA, you best believe I WILL pirate it.

This Game Will Suck If…

– There are rabbit holes. I hate them.
– EA attempts to nickel and dime all of us with new furniture. Isn’t nickel and diming us with “Stuff” packs enough to pad your wallets?
– They try to modernize it. I never heard of cell phones, televisions, or cars in the medieval era. I already know modders will make this possible, but I swear if EA gives that to us, I’ll be super pissed.
– EA tries to shove DLC down my throat. I have like 5-6k Sims Points I never spent. Why? Because I detest the idea of buying overpriced furniture and hairstyles when I get better ones for FREE from the hard work of modders.
– EA tries to push out the modding community even more. Modthesims was awesome for The Sims 2. The Sims 3 came out, and the modding community has taken a nose dive. Creativity is gone, it seems. I haven’t found a single worthwhile house or hairstyle download for that game, but I can find plenty of archived ones for the Sims 2 no problem. Part of the reason is CAS (Create-A-Style), and part of the reason is because of the whole Sims Points bullshit.

No Rift? SW:TOR? WTF?!

Nope. And here’s why:

Rift- Completely and totally not interested. Looks like a WoW clone through and through. And honestly, I have enough on my plate in terms of MMOs and The Elder Scrolls. (I put over 600 hours into Oblivion over the course of 4 years.)

SW: TOR – Meh. LucasArts once again trying to bring in the dough with yet ANOTHER Star Wars game. I love Star Wars, don’t get me wrong. I just can’t be bothered to support George Lucas in any of his endeavors after the atrocity that was known as Star Wars Episodes 1-3. Gerogie managed to take one of my favorite sagas of all time and ruin it. Yes, I’m still bitter about it. I grew up on Star Wars. It was my first PG movie! Not to mention SoE’s bastardization of Star Wars Galaxies….wait nevermind. Let’s not even go there. Star Wars games, in general, are hit and miss. Tie Fighter (Win 95…HA! Old school!) was awesome. Rogue Squadron (N64) was awesome. Knights of the Old Republic was decent enough. But Bounty Hunter, the rehash of every movie, and fucking LEGO Star Wars? No, no thank you Georgie!

I’ve pretty much given up on Final Fantasy XIV. I have no hope for that game, and the more I delve into World of Warcraft, the more I realize Square-Enix has absolutely no idea what their playerbase wants. Unless SE gets their act together, I’m betting FFXIV will end mid-late 2012 (along with the rest of the world, haha!)

That’s it for me. Between Twittering all evening, digging up old tunes, and talking to my boss over Facebook, this post took me most of the evening. Time to play some games!

Merry Christmahannakwanzaka!

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Misc.

Whether you know my boyfriend and I as Kata & Nata, Goddess & Wolfei, Tary & Eli, Mich & Natt, Kay & Jay, or Kat and Joe, we both wish you the happiest and safest holiday.