Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
WAR official forums

I guess this post will solicit less response, but the subject is basically the same as yesterdays: A game company making life harder for their fans, and the fans going on strike. In this case it it Mythic, who recently introduced official WAR forums. And the Only-WAR fan forums are closing down, saying Mythic made them obsolete.

While official forums might be unfortunate for WAR fan forums, I do think overall it should be easier to follow what Mythic says now they have an official forum. I remember last year some people from Mythic made statements in the comment section of my blog. Well, I'm honored, but for anyone trying to run a "blue tracker" of all official statements that must have been hell to visit every single blog and forum out there.

Now many people are opposed to official forums because the quality is often bad, with lots of trolls clamoring for attention. But I do believe that is simply a matter of forum policing. If you get some strict moderators wielding a hefty ban stick, you quickly weed out the worst trolls and make even official forums a useful place to get information.
All this time, I've never understood what could possibly be the point in not having some form of official forum.

I think it's a useful idea to encourage small communities to stick together, as it's more likely that they'll stay in their game if they continue to be close with the community they came there with, but guilds and other communities that move wholesale from game to game will almost always have their own communities anyway.

To me this is just one of those things you have to get right early on, because your players simply will not enjoy such big changes mid-stream. Players are mad that the forums are going up now, but they'd also have been furious if there had previously been forums, and they took them down now. Players hate change.

I think it's bad to see people trolling for dev posts in every thread, but honestly that's what was already happening with the distributed forum approach. Every time Jacobs would post somewhere, he was a harbinger of doom for that forum. I remember when hordes of Jacobs admirers descended on F13 to respond to a post that he'd made there. It was a complete mess.

Anyhow, I'm not one of the people who goes nuts over the idea of community management and thinks it is the key to making a good game, but it does seem pretty ridiculous that this is happening only just now.

Yes, heavy moderating is what seems to split the good fora with the bad ones. Take a look at the Elitist Jerks fora vs the WoW official fora. EJ fora will ban anyone giving dumb comments (duplicate questions, sloppy spelling, flaming,...) which makes them an excellent source of information.

There's space for unofficial fora, you just have to give your users that little bit extra compared to the official fora.
The lack of official forum meant that lots of smaller communities sprung up. Some, like Warhammer Alliance were very successful and became de facto unofficial forums (and still are, esp if players in the US want to chat to players in the EU). Others like Only-War stayed quite small.

I think if they're quitting now it probably means that their community had practically dwindled to nothing anyway (due to players leaving, people using busier forums, etc) so they just thought they'd make a bit more publicity about closing down. I doubt official forums are denting any well established communities.
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They really separated the US and the English EU forums? *nerdrage*
It's not just that they turned their back on many of the amaller community fansites that were built, they decided to start reguarly visiting the fields of rotting cess pools that is The Vault. I gave up on that place years ago...yet somehow Mythic developers felt compelled to post there.

Whereas, sites like WHA stood by them since the begining and USED to be at the forefront, they have now been pushed aside, as only the community folks seem to visit reguarly. This probably has more to do with marketing and Mark Jacobs inability to STFU when confronted by the trolls of the interwebs.

Still, VN doesn't need Mythic posting there to keep the community active....WHA kind of does. One supported you for years and is very heavily moderated in your favor, the other never really supported you and has no moderation. Which one do you choose?
Guild Wars / ArenaNet does not have an official forum. But the official Wiki for Guild Wars, hosted by ArenaNet, quickly became some sort of un-official official forum. Not really the point of a Wiki, but it happened nevertheless.

The quality of the fan-forums is subject to debate. They are definitely not as bad as the official WoW forums, but they are still bad enough to scare of a lot of people.

"But I do believe that is simply a matter of forum policing. If you get some strict moderators wielding a hefty ban stick, you quickly weed out the worst trolls and make even official forums a useful place to get information."

I totally agree. I just have not seen it happen so far, unfortunately. This is why I tend to prefer blogs by now.
Blizzard and their Support/GMs seem to follow the guideline that it is better that customers piss of other customers than Blizzard having to make one troll angry at Blizzard...

I do not know, do some people know official forums that have a somewhat higher quality standards in content/moderation/policies?
"But I do believe that is simply a matter of forum policing. If you get some strict moderators wielding a hefty ban stick, you quickly weed out the worst trolls and make even official forums a useful place to get information."

Elitist jerks forums are typically of this kind. Heavy handed moderation and very interesting discussions about World of Warcraft.
I really hope WAR forums moderation will be similar.
It seems to me that a lot of the issues with larger MMO forums come from how the game style encourages players to get so personally invested in it, or possibly from the more competitive (Whether it be status competetion, or PvP competetion) style that a lot of MMO's seem to support. Ift was kind of amazing, after reading MMO forums and Guild wars wiki for a few years, to go to forums like CivFanatics or the official galactic civilizations ones, and actually have the forums be readable and a good source of information. It may be that the moderation is better, but it is still quite a contrast to what equivalent MMO forums would be like (With all their "(company) hates (class)!", "Noob" "At least I have a life", etc.)

I do still think the unofficial forums have a better chance to be successful than official forums, just because the moderators will have more freedom to be forum nazis, and less attention seekers, but after thinking about how large, but unofficial, MMO forums seem to go a lot of the time, I don't think official/unofficial matters as much. Still, to be successful, the Mythic forum managers will have to be quite strong forum nazis (in the good sense of the word) to keep the forums useful for things besides guild recruitment, technical issues, etc.
@ Seriouslycasual

Mythic sort of abandoned Warhammer Alliance shortly after release as their preferred site to post on because the community was in uproar over the quality of the game. The WHA mods did a good job by moderating the trolls but they let the honest hard questions through. That put Mythic off because everytime they came to post anything they received 100 replys asking why so and so wasn't fixed yet. The VN boards typically protected the Mythic poster.

The old fan sites need to take a key from Wowhead, EJ, or even Allakhazam. WAR is suffering from lack of a really good data source site. They currently only have WARDB which is a PITA to navigate or draw decent quest/zone info off of.
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