A game I’m really excited about, Lithmeria, just bellyflopped PR-wise. The game has been riddled with launch errors (unexpected bugs, resulting from things like 50 people spamming the same command at once), so development has been pushed back. Unfortunately, each day for the last 3 days has been this process of “Game’s up…crap, something’s broken…game’s down.”
One gamer finally got irritated and posted his/her feelings about this constant yo-yo in IRC, suggesting that updates should be posted on the website/forums, instead of through IRC….and a dev happened to be there. Unfortunately, instead of simply making sympathetic sounds, the dev tried to defend the game – to the point of counter-attacking the player and siding with the IRC crowd who claim the game is fine, regardless of errors. Now, I can feel for the player – IRC is not for everyone. Still, some people like it, and power to them – but a player should not be forced to hang out in there to get information about the game they want to play through IRC – the GAME should provide it, because the GAME should want the player to play.
I think Lithmeria is quite confused, and I don’t blame them. When I was a new leader in MUDs, I didn’t even fathom the concept of players who didn’t read the game forums or participate in IRC/etc. Someone told me to ask others about my news post and I was SHOCKED to discover that a large number of players don’t even read in-game posts. This concept is entirely foreign and “crazy” to a hard core MUD player, but this type of gameplay is more typical that it is not. Yes, the majority of people playing your game won’t follow the OOC (out of character) mediums – they just want to play the game.
Blizzard has learned this lesson the hard way: early Cata dungeons were demandingly hard because of a large FORUM outcry about dungeon difficulty. Blizzard very quickly realized that the forum populace is not, by any extent, a good sample of the real player base, and dungeons were quickly nerfed down to casual-friendly runs. Some people even claim that the negative 2 million spike in popularity is because of changes Cata introduced, many of which were based on forum crusades; many of these crusades are now counteracted in MoP as WoW has brought back a more classic gameplay and storyline.
For the original MUD of discussion, the extrapolated point to take from this is that it’s GOOD for a game to imaginarily extend its potential player base. It’s BAD to assume the loud 4 people in IRC know what’s best (and siding with them is really dumb). It’s even WORSE to neglect some sort of official promotion when you have an official website – I know you aren’t complete, but you are close enough. The issue is going to be: is that medium of casual players going to be enough to make your game fly – and will neglecting them in PR make you sink?