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  1. #1

    Community Interaction Post-Mortem

    Hey guys,

    As you know, I've moved on, but I still wanted to thank you all for the incredible feedback over the past year.

    In light of the way things turned out, I'd like to ask you guys for some help. Specifically, I would like some critical feedback on the way we communicated through MoP beta until now.

    I'm moving onto a new community and I'd really like to hear what I could have done better from my harshest critics. (Yes, even you, Helheim) It's fine to make mistakes, but better to learn from them.

    Don't hold back, I have a thick... carapace, as you'll see pretty soon.

    -Xelnath

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelnath View Post
    Don't hold back, I have a thick... carapace, as you'll see pretty soon.

    -Xelnath
    Is that a reference to 5.2 or your new job? If you are in the 5.2 raid I'll take great delight in speccing Destro and killing you >:]



    About the feedback, what I think you did best was follow the discussion here and when we came to the conclusion that some aspect didn't work or were divided about something you'd chime in with either an explanation of intent OR briefed us about a design change that was coming but not implemented yet that changed the dynamic of what we were discussing. I also liked your insights in the balancing and design process Blizz has in place.

    I think that's what made you valuable to us, you helped discussion evolve and make the feed back we could provide better cause we understood (or could ask) what the intent was. It also stiffled some muttering and complaining if we were aware before hand what changes were coming which made sitting through an unbalanced or clunky design patch more tolerable. The recent change to Blood Fear and the lack of information about the design intent has caused much bad blood, and without communication we can only fear it's going to stay in the bad form it has now. Things like this make some warlocks worry that we lost Blizz's ear on our concerns when you left.

    As you see I don't have much outright critique. I think most of the critics from beta are in the PvP camp. In hindsight though, those guys were mostly asking for more instant CC back then, to create kill windows, when today the trending opinion seems to be that there's too much instant CC allready and we need less of it, so I guess they weren't necessarily having good ideas they wanted you to do anyway.
    Your Soul Shall Suffer! ||| Forum rules ||| New England Patriots

  3. #3
    Great interaction, will to keep on communicating even after tense discussions. A relationship with the community that was fun and good-hearted, yet serious and dedicated at the same time. Transparency and honesty were at their top, without major leaks that could seriously compromise the company. A way of talking that would incite many to participate and step up, and even keep on playing the game solely because of said communication.
    These are the ideas that would come to mind if anybody were to ask me about Xelnath's active stay on the mmo-champion forums. Your community interaction was excellent in my eyes. You could say that I was talking to an amusing and passionate human being that knew how to relax and talk to others, while staying dedicated to his main goal and mostly satisfying the need of those who wanted to speak to him.
    While I don't agree with your class design decisions from a personal viewpoint, I can only say that your interaction with the community was amazing and unique.

    The only negative things that I'd point out while being completely honest would be the time where you ignored a couple of arguments that a bunch of posters were throwing at you, as well as a small outburst that was understandable when you take into consideration the fact that you were tanking all the angry warlocks.

    Really though, I don't think anyone could have done better in terms of community interaction. What sparked rage in many, myself included (hehe), was the changes to the class, not the way you interacted with us.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nivrax View Post
    You may be on to something here... GC claimed Ret Paladins killed his parents. Could it be that Warlocks drained Celas' dog soul?

  4. #4
    High Overlord
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    From my personnal pov, even if i like it, i think that posting too much (and i think you posted too often) is counterproductive when it comes to "officials".
    I mean one post synthetic after dozens of posts of ppl, saying and resuming what you got from the writings, reminding the direction that management want to follow, and how the 2 can meet for the materialization, would be perfect, not much too say not much to keep secret.

    If you can make some clever teasing as a bonus, then imho it's perfect, i don't like GC that much, but some of its older posts were good and like the way i describe.
    those tweets he does now is like , more proximity with the community with ""live"" feedback, i don't think it's any good apart from splitting information here & there,neither is the secret kept around some decision.

    as a senior team leader, i would say that posting too much create the impression that the "official" talking is like a friend talking, but.. we aint friend, nor you are a standard player. On the forums: you work , we don't

    As for myself to resume, i don't want that devs or CM do total transparency not justifications, but explanations.

    (soz for my bad english)
    Last edited by sster; 2012-12-27 at 03:58 PM.

  5. #5
    When I read your comment about "destruction being a clusterfuck of a spec in Cata" I had the feeling that you would not last long there.

    I will try to explain why.It was a clusterfuck,no doubt.I know it, you know it,the kid down the street knows it,damn even his grandma knows it.

    But publicly admitting that a spec was garbage(and using the words you use) ,its like bashing the previous class head designer, the team behind the class(which without doubt many of them stayed after you took over) and even the *cough* " Lead Systems Designer " *cough* of WoW, who let a spec being crap for an entire expansion.I have learned from my work that it is a good thing to communicate with costumers (and we are a strange kind of costumers,if I may add) but some things are not meant to be public,needs to be addressed internally and with extreme elegance.

    Other than that your communication was excellent and more or less set an example.

    Good luck in your future endeavors

    N.

  6. #6
    Brewmaster Skayth's Avatar
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    1 thing i would like to know, was demonology in alpha (mop) being written towards tanking or a bastardized version of boomkin that it is now?

    Now, that it is post-mortem, I have to say, you were an excellent class designer, talking to the community and asking whateveryone thought. Taking in some of the comments. Some stuff was ignored which can and cannot be a good thing, but over all, you were great. Going out into the community takes balls, and that was a good thing, even though some people will be able to point at u (or blizz now for firing u) for the problems with the class. Honestly, i feel the same for GC even though gets alot of smack from community. He is the posterface, and basically comes out into the community and tells people whats going on, rather than being silent. He even takes some ideas (if you are lucky).

    Good luck at ur next job. =)

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelnath View Post
    In light of the way things turned out, I'd like to ask you guys for some help. Specifically, I would like some critical feedback on the way we communicated through MoP beta until now.
    -Xelnath
    Every beta has always lacked pretty much any form of actual discussions between the dev vs. Warlocks, MoP was no different. There was no rhyme or reasons for buffs/nerfs during the beta, any feedback to fix various talents, specs, spells, mechanics fell on deaf ears from the POV of the community. The way the MoP beta was panning out was scarily like WotLK beta, where the class would get nerfed and nerfed until things went Live and finally buffed after a few months. Luckily, it was the final couple weeks of the beta where things actually began to get fixed so MoP beta wasn't a 100% complete retelling of WotLK/Cata betas. But even with the few fixes which went out, the game went Live with quite a lot of well-voiced, well known problems players had been discussing the previous umpteen months which still took quite a bit to fix and some still exist to date.

    Communication doesn't exist for the most part during the Betas and Warlock community during Betas. We generally make threads a mile long, every possible outcome in a real world scenario and the most we have usually gotten is a GC scolding or some snide remark from somebody else which doesn't help anything nor usually has anything to do with the feedback(s) provided. Vanilla Beta was fun, TBC beta was weird at best, WotLK beta was simply offensive and made people want to quit, Cata beta got nowhere, MoP beta was silent. Players know not everything suggested is going to be used or considered, we're not that daft but, in-game experience shouldn't be discounted by the devs simply because the thing on paper looks so good.

    Far as up til you quit/fired/whatever, you simply posted too much which probably got your foot in your mouth more often than not. It's great to post on a fan site, but officially it could've been kept to the blizz forums. Not saying it wasn't appreciated but it's always good to keep aa tiny barrier between dev and players since it's easy to get swept up in things.
    Last edited by Moggie; 2012-12-27 at 07:32 PM.

  8. #8
    I think this was kind of a unique situation in that being away from the official forums allowed a member of the development team to more-directly communicate with the players and maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio. MMOC is niche-enough and has the moderation to keep everyone in line, generally. You simply can't get that on the Blizz forums, and it would be hard to recreate what we had here without it going awry after a while.

    I never felt you were too candid or that the curtain was being peeled back a little too much but apparently that wasn't the case. I guess if there were any criticisms it would be about being sure to follow boundaries and stay between the lines, but even then I feel like I'm forcing that. I'm glad you'll be going somewhere that might give you a bit more freedom.

    Xskarma probably has a good point about the PVP, as well. It seemed like there was a lot of worry about Warlocks being too strong in the month before MoP launched, specifically the power of UR and DB, and it might have turned out that this wasn't the case. I don't know if that's a communication issue specifically or something else. From what I remember, high-end PVP Locks on other sites may not have been all that accommodating to feedback.

  9. #9
    Stood in the Fire Queen Ultima's Avatar
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    Ok, firstly, it's great to see you still frequent the forums.

    Secondly, while personally I didn't see your posts until MoP hit, I can say that I thought highly of you. I can't say much that hasn't been said, but maybe this might help. The interaction between you and the community gave Warlocks a new flexibility, heck you even took the name Dark Apotheosis from us (still sad you didn't pick Perdition, but whatever :P ). If there was a complaint about your own posts, it'd probably be the passion in them, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it did make the feedback fairly Warlock biased. With other classes, like Rogues and Shaman who feel that their own class are under-noticed (not that every class doesn't have people who feel their class is the worst) it didn't help that Warlocks, having had a major rehaul, now had a champion for their cause.

    Thirdly, and this is more a community thing that has died down but not entirely: Your leaving has been taken as the basis for each and every Warlock nerf. Chaos Bolt sac a DoT? Xel wouldn't have done this! Chaos Wave damage lowered? Where's Xel?! etc, etc, ad naseum. I fear you've been matyred, especially on the official forums. (EU ones anyway, but frankly I feel that the official forums are of far, far less quality than MMO-Champion, which is a sad irony.)

    Fourthly, I must ask... Is the Codex of Xerrath named after yourself?

  10. #10
    Dev/player barrier is a must, don't get too friendly.

    However the single most important thing which you did right was this: Making it really feel like everything we wrote was being read/listened to (even if you didn't always agree, which is good!) This encourages higher quantity and quality posts because each post suddenly feels more important when you know it is being read and considered. I know myself in earlier betas for example I would have some feedback to give, but didn't, because I was not sure if everything was actually read or considered to bother writing up a full page or partake in active discussions of certain subjects.

    Something I've been wondering though about feedback in general if you can answer your thoughts Xel;
    Would you say it is important to repeat the same feedback multiple times for greater visibility (since a beta can last a few months, so may forget or lose track?), or would you say when I've put it up once, I've done my part regarding that subject?


    Edit: I know some people complain about the pvp state of warlocks, but it is in my opinion it is not possible to make players happy in pvp without making them OP, simply because of the very nature of what is player vs player and the competitiveness and community it creates, which is why I stopped pvping a long time ago.
    Last edited by Micke; 2012-12-27 at 08:41 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
    1 thing i would like to know, was demonology in alpha (mop) being written towards tanking or a bastardized version of boomkin that it is now?

    Now, that it is post-mortem, I have to say, you were an excellent class designer, talking to the community and asking whateveryone thought. Taking in some of the comments. Some stuff was ignored which can and cannot be a good thing, but over all, you were great. Going out into the community takes balls, and that was a good thing, even though some people will be able to point at u (or blizz now for firing u) for the problems with the class. Honestly, i feel the same for GC even though gets alot of smack from community. He is the posterface, and basically comes out into the community and tells people whats going on, rather than being silent. He even takes some ideas (if you are lucky).

    Good luck at ur next job. =)
    Since we're past the point where anyone else would ask... Demonology started out as an experiment into a god-of-war style AoE melee class while in demon form and a ranged nuker in human form. It turned out that sucked because once you were in melee and ran out of Demon Juice, the monsters you were AoE'ing obliterated you without AoE Cleave abilities.

    After that didn't pan out, I tried out Demonology as a true tank spec. That turned out to be a lot of fun, but other designers (correctly!) protested against the total removal of the demonology DPS style. So I tabled the tank spec, as it was clear that couldn't be fleshed out until Demonology-as-DPS was solved.

    The next iteration was Demonology-as-a-summoner, where every Demonology ability was done by proxy via a summoned demon. This was very *cool*, but felt sluggish and I kept asking, "why are my pets more awesome than I am?" as I spammed Shadow Bolt fillers between summoning Imps and such. This lead to the next iteration of Demonology Warlock - master of indirect magic.

    Rather than summon creatures, Demonology started using objects. I repurposed Hand of Gul'dan as a frequent nuke rather than location-based buff. Carrion Swarm reintroduced the bats. Finally, Ion Hazzikostas (Watcher) had the brilliant idea to make *all* of your basic nukes get upgraded while in Demon Form. I loved this idea and it felt like it clicked.

    It had a lot of overlap with Druid Eclipse, so I did my best to give it one differentiating point - that your trinket choice differentiated how you played the spec. Reactively, with proc trinkets, or in a planned way with on-click trinkets.

    Once that was done, I looked back on everything I did and asked what I wanted to keep. The tanky-lock was the only thing I missed, so I put that on a glyph and shipped it. Turned out my understanding of how much dodge and parry had fallen behind the times since WotLK - so the 75% damage reduction from Dark Apotheosis broke the game.

    Thankfully, Jimmythenumbers and Big Bear were able to talk me down off my high-horse and it got sufficiently nerfed before it went live.

    Did that help?

  12. #12
    Stood in the Fire Queen Ultima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xelnath View Post
    The next iteration was Demonology-as-a-summoner, where every Demonology ability was done by proxy via a summoned demon. This was very *cool*, but felt sluggish and I kept asking, "why are my pets more awesome than I am?" as I spammed Shadow Bolt fillers between summoning Imps and such. This lead to the next iteration of Demonology Warlock - master of indirect magic.
    Is that why Demon Bolt never saw the light of day? If it helps, with Wild Imps there is at least a sense of summoning, even unintentionally, Demons to aid in attacking.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelnath View Post
    Since we're past the point where anyone else would ask... Demonology started out as an experiment into a god-of-war style AoE melee class while in demon form and a ranged nuker in human form. It turned out that sucked because once you were in melee and ran out of Demon Juice, the monsters you were AoE'ing obliterated you without AoE Cleave abilities.

    After that didn't pan out, I tried out Demonology as a true tank spec. That turned out to be a lot of fun, but other designers (correctly!) protested against the total removal of the demonology DPS style. So I tabled the tank spec, as it was clear that couldn't be fleshed out until Demonology-as-DPS was solved.

    The next iteration was Demonology-as-a-summoner, where every Demonology ability was done by proxy via a summoned demon. This was very *cool*, but felt sluggish and I kept asking, "why are my pets more awesome than I am?" as I spammed Shadow Bolt fillers between summoning Imps and such. This lead to the next iteration of Demonology Warlock - master of indirect magic.

    Rather than summon creatures, Demonology started using objects. I repurposed Hand of Gul'dan as a frequent nuke rather than location-based buff. Carrion Swarm reintroduced the bats. Finally, Ion Hazzikostas (Watcher) had the brilliant idea to make *all* of your basic nukes get upgraded while in Demon Form. I loved this idea and it felt like it clicked.

    It had a lot of overlap with Druid Eclipse, so I did my best to give it one differentiating point - that your trinket choice differentiated how you played the spec. Reactively, with proc trinkets, or in a planned way with on-click trinkets.

    Once that was done, I looked back on everything I did and asked what I wanted to keep. The tanky-lock was the only thing I missed, so I put that on a glyph and shipped it. Turned out my understanding of how much dodge and parry had fallen behind the times since WotLK - so the 75% damage reduction from Dark Apotheosis broke the game.

    Thankfully, Jimmythenumbers and Big Bear were able to talk me down off my high-horse and it got sufficiently nerfed before it went live.

    Did that help?

    I really like the way demonology plays now its my favorite spec to play. I love transforming into that awesome demon form like how the spec kinda revolves around it more than it use to. I really hope they don't change it because imo its much better than just summoning demons you get to become one which is super awesome

  14. #14
    My only gripe with demo is Chaos Wave and Void Ray never had/have any 'rotational' use in pve, something raised throughout the beta. Especially as they are graphically cool lookin spells.

    The feedback from you was great, just a shame it was on here rather than the official forums.

  15. #15
    The back and forth discussion was a strongpoint from my point of view. The MOP lock changes were amazing imo for the most part. I do like the old affliction model better but the changes to demo and destro kept me playing this game. And even though destro never got the one last ability that I still feel it needs just the simple fact that you came to those decisions by interacting with us was unprecedented and to be applauded good sir. There were countless times we all brought something to your attention and "after some heated debate" you fixed it for us "dark bargain being castable while cc'd as just one of many examples". I have always felt that designers should talk to thier community to maintain an analytical third person perspective point of view and you sir did so in the way that I've always felt it should be done so cheers to you for that and its a shame that you were a snowflake amongst your kind.
    Last edited by Lucidious; 2012-12-28 at 01:35 AM.

  16. #16
    The Patient
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    On the official forums, it was nothing new. Another Beta with a vortex between the CM, Devs, and beta testers. Surprisingly, the best information came from the theorycrafting thread, which helped a great deal and with someone to delete all the tangents every so often, stayed fairly on track. I feel as if you almost had something like that going on here, but missed the mark. I've always said it was a shame that you couldn't talk to people testing your class and spending insane amounts of time and effort discussing what worked, what didn't work, and possible alternatives on the official forums.

    The thing I found most valuable was you telling players no. Us posters often get so wrapped up in our argument that we forget that it's not our game, or even other concerns are equally valid. You did very well there, even if it wasn't popular, it did more than most other answers you gave.

    The biggest question I have would be why couldn't you get on the Beta forums during the beta itself and give even a little bit of that feedback there? MMO Champ, for all good or bad it may be, never seemed the place that a dev would be expected to come when the game's own forums are thriving.

    For the record, I love the split and new identities that locks have between specs in MoP. For far, far too long too much was shared between the specs, and locks became lost, especially in Cata. While there are some few and far between aspects that I miss from the old style, it's nice to pick a spec and have true identity unique to each, not just haunt, felguard, or convoluted mess.

    Edit: Suppose I have another question: How could you not have seen Glyph of Soul Shards/Burning Embers as not being mandatory DPS increases? Seems like you guys did fairly well with most of the glyphs, but this one seems obvious.
    Last edited by Medieve; 2012-12-27 at 09:47 PM.

  17. #17
    Telling people no is fine, they're not looking for what's best in the game, they're looking for what is best for themselves and the class/character they play.

    I honestly can't think of much to criticize you about. You interacted with the community and fixed bugs/QoL issues. The best thing you did in my eyes was saying why an ability wouldn't be buffed or had to be nerfed, instead of us just guessing or sulking about it we got an actual explanation, people might not have been happy about it but personally I thought it was great.

    What would you have done differently if you could repeat the situation?
    Last edited by Bartimaeus; 2012-12-27 at 09:53 PM.

  18. #18
    I think communicating with us showed a degree of respect that was/is very much appreciated. At least by me. I know communicating with us isn't something you were getting paid to do. It shows a level of genuine care for your work and for the people who would be enjoying (or hating :P) your efforts.

    Even if you would shoot down our suggestions/requests, I'd rather hear "no" from someone working on the game than for there to be no communication at all. But generally even if you had to shoot things down, you would explain your reasoning. The former GM of my guild has given me lots of great advice; I think probably one of the best things he's told me is (paraphrase), "I don't care if they hate me, as long as they understand my reasoning."

    I don't know what the difference in usage is between the official forums and mmo-c here, but I imagine here it's a smaller proportion of people posting more often. I imagine your choice to communicate here (besides being less on-the-radar with regard to higher-ups) was because we, as a whole, are more invested in our class than folks posting only on the official forums. Correct or not, I think the spirit of that decision is in the right place.

    If I could recommend anything, maybe it'd be that you be a bit more clear about how often/regularly you can respond. Maybe it's just me, but at first it was extremely exciting to see we had a direct communication with someone on the inside, and perhaps I/we got a bit spoiled on the situation. I think maybe it's not so good for us to latch onto this connection as fervently as we did ... so many posts being directed directly to you, more than any one person could respond to directly. Even if with time became obvious you wouldn't be able to be as much a part of the dialogue as we on here are, I think we could tone back the efforts at talking with you, instead remaining focused on talking with each other (and having you be part of that conversation, rather than the focus) if you, I dunno, would post regularly over time instead of having a burst of a few posts scattered here and there. Maybe let us know you're watching feedback the whole time but can only really chime in maybe once a week or so, so we're not all clawing to get our own personal issues addressed directly.

  19. #19
    you gave us clear cut explanations as to why things were getting buffed/nerfed and kept us in the loop. you didnt tell us EVERYTHING but you shouldnt need to. give us enough info to "fill our bellies" and we'll love you for it.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by kaamila View Post
    you gave us clear cut explanations as to why things were getting buffed/nerfed and kept us in the loop. you didnt tell us EVERYTHING but you shouldnt need to. give us enough info to "fill our bellies" and we'll love you for it.
    I would say that these things, in addition to remarkably quick turn around on "bug or not" responses were the most useful. As a player I feel that knowing the why of a change does a lot of good. While I may not agree with the reasons or the design direction, knowing that there are ones grounded in sound reasoning go a long way. It was also great having quick responses to detailed scaling and formula information when it wasn't trivial to get from combat logs and game data.

    While it was ultimately what lead to the conflict of interest or lack of balance, it would do wonders for this game if every class had a vocal developer who really cared that their class was fun and balanced. Frustration with in the dev team being expressed publicly was obviously um, not good?, but I think that the other communication was at a level that I wish the other games I played exhibited.

    My only suggestions would be about how the interactions developed over time. Initially you were a lurker who was "leaking" things that only someone on the dev team really could have known or changed and even once you were being open about being a dev it took a while for you to post any directed feed back threads. There are some stages of development where crowd sourcing isn't very useful but there are a lot of them where a simple question posed to the community of players who play your game will generate great suggestions you wouldn't have gotten alone (the name of Dark Apotheosis is a good example of this occurring on these boards).
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