Thursday, December 9, 2010

Developer Communication

It used to be that the strange and mysterious creatures, known as developers, were a rare sight on MMO forums.  Nowadays, MMO developers are much more open and in-touch with their customers.  Some moreso than others, of course.  One developer has really raised the bar.

I have been visiting the Star Trek Online forums regularly for a while now, and I have been really impressed with the amount of developer interaction that goes on.  On most days, you will find a good 20 posts from their team.  It's not all just announcements either. Their producer (dstahl) is a regular on the forums often engaging in conversation with players.

A great example is the Season 3 crafting changes thread.  He is very open about what they want to accomplish and why.  Players actually feel a part of the iteration process, since there is a lot of back and forth.  The Foundry Roadmap is another great example.  He lets the players know about their short term and long term goals. 

This openness may also be due to the community of STO.  Compared to some other games, it seems to be a lot more friendly.  It isn't a big surprise that developers are more inclined to post when the environment is not toxic.

Developer interaction also has the benefit of giving the impression that they game is alive and well.  I stopped by the Vanguard forums and found that the last non-community developer post was around 4 months ago.  What does that say to you?  I think both STO and Vanguard are extreme examples, but regular developer interaction helps make a positive public image.