I was meditating today on the importance of player input when managing an MMORPG. Obviously, a successful game company will listen to what their players want, and introduce features that appeal to them. But companies that don't allow a deeper level of input are missing out on an incredible resource: the knowledge and dedication of the fans.
We recently made one of our most enthusiastic players into an intern. He's been giving us great feedback. We've learned that even if someone in the office likes an idea, if he doesn't agree with it, it needs work. Why should he know better than our trained game development and marketing staff? It's simple - he loves the game. He cares too much about it to let us mess it up with something that only sounds like a good idea from behind a desk.
Of course, I also understand how fan-love can motivate someone to want to make a better game: I myself am a fan of Dragon Oath. As the new Community Manager, this isn't just another job - it's a dream come true, being able to work hands-on on the game that I love. I'm passionate about what I do, and if I believe there's a change that will make the Dragon Oath experience better, I fight for it.
We are experimenting with a system that we call the OathKeepers, where selected players would help us police Dragon Oath - everything from catching spammers, to enforcing our language policies, to directing new players to the appropriate FAQs. Not only will this give us some much-needed extra eyes and ears, but will involve the players in maintaining their own community. That way, everyone can feel good knowing that no one has an unfair advantage (bots) or is out there trying to ruin your gaming experience (spammers, bullies.) This would also show our new players that if they get involved in our community in a constructive way, they can rise to the level of OathKeeper and mentor new players as they themselves were mentored.
In a perfect world - which is what an MMORPG tries to create - everyone would have a day job that they really cared about. But at least we can give the people that care about Dragon Oath a chance to contribute.
- Lucy Song