Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 08, 2008
Virtual lynch mobs

Over at Mark Jacob's blog the man is complaining about the threats and insults that the GOA account fiasco evoked from some customers. On the one side Mark certainly has a point: People say things on the internet that they would never dare to say to your face. I had my share of that, and I can feel his pain.

On the other hand Mark should be happy that his customers react in this irrational way, by posting foul language on some forums to blow off steam. Because the alternative would be customers reacting in a completely rational way and cancelling their pre-orders. MMO players *are* crazy like that, they complain in the most extreme form possible, but keep on paying every month. Most companies would be happy about customers like that, because in the end customers voting with their wallets hurt a lot more than any bad insults.

And of course the situation was made worse by Mythic's "we don't need no steeenking official forums" policy. At one point on Saturday this very blog was the place with the most up to date official information on the subject, even if it was a statement that community manager Iain probably regrets now, that nothing could possibly go wrong. Sorry, there aren't that many people reading this blog. Official information about what is going on belongs on an official site. If you get all the discussion about what is going wrong on your own forums, you can delete the most excessive threats and insults. Mythic's way to make official posts on forums they don't own takes forum moderation out of their hands, while still giving those forums enough officialness to become the target for all verbal attacks.

Anyway, I won't allow any virtual lynch mobs on my blog, against anyone. It is okay to be angry and to vent it, but not by using excessive personal attacks and threats. Calling GOA "incompetent" and threatening to cancel is totally okay. The anonymous "DEATH TO GOA" post is certainly *NOT* okay. There is quite a lot that can be intelligently said about the hubris of GOA without resorting to virtual lynching.

And GOA promised the account servers would be up in 20 minutes from now. Fingers crossed.
Actually, it is more a refusal of people to use the feedback avenues available to them. Like GOA or Mythic's customer support e-mail systems.

People just want to rant and cuss and bitch. If they wanted a solution, they would find one or be patient for the company to provide one.

The "gotta have it now" crowd the Internet has spawned is a bit overbearing at times and I'm glad someone came out and told them they are a bunch of flaky biscuits.
I had a pre-order with and the codes I received were invalid for the OB. After I canceled and bought it through D2D, I was able to get in.

It's been done to death, but the combat, especially for the ranged classes just isn't very good. And I'm mystified as to why I have to manually target myself while playing a healer to get off a self heal. If I'm doing it wrong, I'd love to know...otherwise I'm skipping the healing classes.

I'm going to give this a long look, but I'm not all that hopeful.
I totally agree.

Time ago, I was a UO Counselor. So I had a crash course on how to deal with players and such.

After a really hard help request call I was involved in...
During debriefing my tutor told me:
"Don't worry too much if a player is very harsh and curse to vent. If they do so, it means they care about the game and want it to be better. Don't bother if they say they will cancell their account. Most probably they won't. But beware of those that are quiet, they most probably will even if they don't say so."

And I add...
not counting all those that don't call customer support and directly quit without a word.
I'm glad someone came out and told them they are a bunch of flaky biscuits.

I disagree, Heartless_. Mark and Ian should either keep these remarks to themselves or at least do a better job clarifying which posts they found offensive. It’s not that they are wrong, it’s that people misinterpret who they are calling flaky biscuits. While they may be directing the chill out comments to the worst offenders, it’s interpreted by everyone who voiced any negative sentiment that they are talking about them. It’s like hearing someone say “those people make me sick” and then wondering if you are one of those people. Such ambiguity only leads to misinterpretation and it’s no wonder people are pissed off about it – they think it’s directed at them.
I've been following this small series of events over the weekend, Tobold, and I don't like it one bit.

From their comments and GOA's approach, they project too much pride. In my opinion, the community reps believe playing their game is a privilege. It smacks of bad customer support.

That's disappointing, because customer support is definitely one of the aspects of an MMO where different companies can compete.
trying right now, i have a rolling thing in the middle on my screen since 15 min....

And i am not even sure of the code because i have a glitch of ink in the middle.
Well seems the comedy is continuing today:D Not quite unexpected of course. The new and improved account site is totally swamped.

Sofar its offering mild entertainment though, albeit in another sense then was intended. Im not much of a virtual lyncher, but all those rabid posts make interesting reading sometimes (and if intelligently written can be a lot more punishing then the simple bile spewing Iain and Mark were talking about).
And i am not even sure of the code because i have a glitch of ink in the middle.

Same glitch of ink on my pre-order code. But yay! I managed to enter the code and got a message that it was accepted. Only works for people with previously created GOA registrations yet though.
From the update on his blog it seems Mark Jacobs didnt like the way Iain worded his evaluation of yesterdays event (the sociopath bit i presume:D), at all. The plot thickens...
It doesn't seem so long ago that the idea of a large open beta, which you got into by digitally ordering and downloading a huge game, was a pipe dream.

Mythic doesn't need the 'flaky biscuits.' They are all talk anyways.
So first they hype WAR to hell and back, raising expectations to a fever pitch. Then they dismiss all concerns about the tight timing as baseless.

And after the worst case happens, they act hurt and confused because people vent their anger in typical forum fashion. Priceless. All those months of PR effort, wasted in the space of a single weekend - at least in europe.

That said, I hope they learn from this and get their act together for the release. If thats the case, at least something good came from this.
I'm following this closely for no other reason than it's a good test of how Mythic handles these types of issues in the future.

I do like how he is distancing himself from IanC's comments:

Mark wrote: "3) I have read IanC’s post on the situation and I have just communicated to GOA my thoughts on it. I’ll simply say this, I do not agree with what he said, I do not support what he said and his comments were, in my opinion, way out of line."
Yeah, bad news for Iain i guess. Wouldnt want to be in his shoes right now. I followed his posts on Alliance and he always seemed in control and able to keep his cool under the onslaught of (moderated) verbal abuse. Guess he lost it yesterday.

And Mark seemed to be making the same point in his blogentry, although he worded it a bit more cautiously..
"... and I have just communicated to GOA my thoughts on it."

This sounds like part of a cold war era political speech. I really hope that relations between GOA and Mythic are not *that* bad.
sid67, I don't think we need to start following how Mythic handles these situations now. We have the history and MJB's blog is classic Mark.

Do I agree with MJB all the time? No, but I respect that he is willing to put his ass on the line to make a statement instead of teeter totter on the fence.

Perception is the Internet's greatest threat. You are right about that part Sid67, but those rationally reacting to the situation are probably going to rationally react to Marks statements. There just happens to be an irrational minority that feel some sort of entitlement because they have an anonymous voice on the Internet. For a rational person, Mark was more than clear what he meant to take offense to.
My current status - (Tobold's blog being the new the GOA official forums!)

Was able to enter my key in from the username I had entered yesterday (and had previously thought to have failed at confirmation).

I also received an email saying I'm "good to go! Enjoy the beta".

Upon attempting to login to the beta, I receive the message "Authentication failed"...

So, was my beta key "really" accepted? or is their system still FUBAR? Anyone else out there who had problems yesterday, and STILL got in today? :-) I would guess the answer is no one will respond to that.
:D Perhaps not. I did enter my CE OB code on the user created yesterday but havent heard anything since. Iain said it would be 1-2 hours for the mail to arrive, but i sent my code when i got home, approx. 4 hours ago. I can hear the lynch mob getting ready again..:D
Same here, still waiting...

And as always no communication from GOA. They are better everydays
Always speaking of this open beta....

It's open beta but seems that almost nobody can get in.
It's very close to final release (1 week before release). And now everything should be ready for release, not for open beta. Such problems could happen but I do expect them way before... not now.

But let's also consider just website. With lateral links that works and do not work in a random manner. Login to website that doesn't work and vital informations never told or told inside forums that you can't reach.

Now, I'm sorry for GOA. I won't discuss much. I'm one of those that aren't very talkative and so much in danger to leave the boat.

And I'm one of those that had cancelled my preorder. I prefer to see what happen and eventually I'll join the game later when and if GOA had proven decent support.
I wish I could cancel my pre-order but digital buy for mmo's isn't refundable... not so much cause I don't wanna play, but I wanna show my discontent in some way other than bashing on a forum...
From mark Jacobs on Alliance:

Never mind when - exactly what are the points that constitute GOA breaching their contract?

LOL, you know I can't say anything about that without breaching the contract myself. Anyway, it hasn't come to that point and I hope that it will not. I can't go into any detail but I had an extremely positive conversation yesterday with Ghislaine and I believe that GOA is absolutely committed to making things right.


he made some other posts there too. Apparently "co -founder Rob" is on the GOA case. Seems Mythic is getting nervous now..
I don't think Mythic can wash their hands of this and blame GOA. They are culpable too. And I agree about official forums. It's rubbish trying to find out information from a million different sources.
I'm going to assume that your frustration over the state of the Euro beta indicates your genuine like for the game...

C'mon Tobold! I'm waiting for your "Recommended" so I can plan the rest of my autumn around this one...

And by the way, are we going to see a Spore review? I know your low self-esteem may find it hard to believe, but your opinion actually effects your readers' buying decisions...

Again, yours is the only blog I have bookmarked, and I'm waiting for you and Zero Punctuation to do a weekly webcast together!
It's been 4 hours since the temp key authorisation page went up and I've still not been able to log in -shrug-

Same old story really, they didn't fully test out the system, they didn't expect so much influx, they didn't 'realize' it would be so popular.

Personally I've ordered a US copy and im going to play on a US server. Because I'm not going to deal with GOA... i had it with DAOC I'm not going through it all again.
I find the refusal to host official forums extremely suspicious; it smacks of trying to conceal expected criticism. If you have faith in your product, you can take the knocks.

What does Mythic want WAR to be more like - WOW or Vanguard?
Time to throw in the towel for me, I think. Don't know as how I can trust an authentication and payment system that is this buggy.

WOW's getting a bit boring these days, but at least I have friends there.

Best wishes and good luck to those who are more hardy and willing to keep trying.

I find the refusal to host official forums extremely suspicious; it smacks of trying to conceal expected criticism. If you have faith in your product, you can take the knocks.

Remember, though, that not having official forums would be an advantage had all this registration junk with GOA not happened. (A few months ago this was the more common posted opinion, do to issues with WoW forums, AoC forums, and others.)

If there were official forums, imagine how much nuttier the criticisms would be.

I'd say neither GOA or the yelling internet people have handled it well. GOA screwed up by making an extremely basic mistake for anyone doing just about anything involving planning (not preparing for things to go wrong.), the internet idiots are doing typical internet idiocy which just gets people angrier, and Mythic needs ot fix things up rather than relying on empty PR as they may be doing (Though as I am not directly involved, I have no idea if/what they are doing about it.)

Fortunately I'm in North America and luckily avoided any beta code issues, but unfortunately have a technical issue that keeps me from playing. (I guess I'll get that new computer sooner than planned.)
"So first they hype WAR to hell and back, "

Can we please have an MMO company that finds a balance between this and what Blizzard does, which is says almost nothing?
Remember, though, that not having official forums would be an advantage had all this registration junk with GOA not happened.
In what way? If there's good feedback, the forums would be full of it.
In what way? If there's good feedback, the forums would be full of it.

Read various older posts on this. Without official forums, it's harder for pointless whining and complaining to concentrate itself in one place. In general, official forums for these types of games are awful to read (Not just WoW), and are not useful for looking for help about anything.

The official forums, if they follow the pattern typical of other forums, might have some good feedback here and there, but it would be quickly swamped by pointless complaining (And a much louder "virtual Lynch mob", which doesn't do anyone any good.)
If Goa dont make this work before the launch i predict massive fail

you dont make a wow killer with crappy service
I have cancelled 2 pre-orders with; I shall maintain my pre-order for the collector's edition. But I have a bad feeling that WAR is suffering second class citizenship in Europe. It is very difficult to have any faith in GOA or their ability to deliver a quality game service or customer service.

If the Open Beta is now in progress, albeit with very restricted numbers in Europe, when are the cd/dvd 's getting mastered, and with which version of the game? Is the release version going to be another 'We will soon have it working' episode, similar to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Age of Conan. There may well be more examples, these were just the 2 I was most recently involved in.

I am so disappointed in WAR, I had hoped it would be all we were lead to expect.
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