An open letter to Ghostcrawler

85 Blood Elf Death Knight
6975
Dear Dr. Street, Dr. Spectral Crawler, Ghost Brachyuran -

I miss you.

When you started posting so prolifically during the Wrath era, I was enthused that we the player base were able to get such valuable insight into the minds of developers. To see a developer so ecstatic about the game that they would take the time out of their day and life to share them with us, your (mostly) humble consumers and players. It was something I had never expected to see from any gaming company on any level, much less one so colossal and influential as Blizzard.

And then you disappeared. And suddenly the game, the forums, everything felt a bit emptier. There was no rumbling of new changes except in chance encounters spaced rather far apart. There was the same discussion among players, but it was mostly about current features and less about what the future holds. I continued to play the game, of course, but I couldn't help but wonder about your mysterious silence.

And then I realized in the middle of a dungeon run. A player was complaining about an upcoming class change, and another player said "yeah that's GC for you, screwing up good classes in the name of "balance" (aka homogenization)". I realized then how vile the community as a whole had been to you. I realized then that no matter what sort of news you posted, no matter what changes you brought to the community, you were met with at least some noteworthy degree of hostility. Who would want to constantly put themselves out for a group of people like that? Certainly not I, and I do not begrudge you for doing so.

So I started to wonder. Did people ever say anything but hostile things to you? It is too often with this community that the contented are silent while the angry are vocal. I'm sure you knew at the time that the entire playerbase was not against you, but did anyone ever take the time to say it? I know I certainly never did, and I feel bad for that. For all the good your posts did me, I never spoke up saying "Thanks!" or even "That's an excellent change!" And I regret that.

So, with all of my heart: Thank you. Thanks for giving us a view into the development process, and an ear for our voice. Thanks for caring enough to read, listen, and impart.

I do not ask for you to resume posting, not even to this thread - I simply want you to know that I was incredibly thankful for your posts during the Wrath era, even though I never said it.
Edited by Nazgûl on 3/10/2011 5:52 PM PST
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90 Night Elf Death Knight
12055
I came in here and was about to rage up a QQ storm.

Then I read your post and was like, "Hm, okay, well, can't argue with that."
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90 Dwarf Paladin
13855
TBH I miss all the blue responses, especially when they are in the process of seemingly breaking your toon. But since the new forums opened more successful work has been done on balancing the game than in all of vanilla, TBC and WotLK.

I miss the crab but I prefer that he is now working on fixing the game rather than chatting about how they intend to fix it.
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90 Night Elf Druid
9380
03/10/2011 2:00 PMPosted by Nazgûl
I miss you.


I must admit I was afraid to read past this sentence...
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100 Night Elf Death Knight
3335
I hope he's still reading, I as well would like to say I appreciate his posts.

The somewhat faceless blogs would seem to me to be a large part of the issue. Great idea at getting information out, but not that great at a discussion.

Getting some form of cogent and coherent reply from the players may be what has taxed him.

The raging replies, the angry comebacks as you mention are likely scarring if that's all one reads.
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85 Blood Elf Warlock
0
03/10/2011 2:14 PMPosted by Relesa
I hope he's still reading, I as well would like to say I appreciate his posts.


I'm beginning to think i missed something special by not really reading the forums until Cata hit. I'll have to add him to my list of WoW legends just based on how many people seem to know about him.

1) Blackball
2) Ghost Crawler
3) Astrey
4) The Lock that Rocks

I don't get out of Bladefist much.

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85 Troll Priest
4870
I think we all understand why he stopped posting. I do miss reading his posts as they were well written and gave a lot of insight into what was happening with class development. That said I would not recomend he return. There really does need to be the buffer of community managers between the developers and the general public.
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100 Night Elf Death Knight
3335
His goal(s) to actually attempt to see what the community would do in light of his posts must have been educational.

I am assuming he was testing the waters, as it were. A great many sharks there by in these waters. I find myself wondering what it would take to get him to post again, without having hundreds of forum posters like myself each trying to have a person-to-person conversation...
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1 Dwarf Hunter
0
I came in here and was about to rage up a QQ storm.Then I read your post and was like, "Hm, okay, well, can't argue with that."


This.
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85 Goblin Hunter
5835
GC or no, I just miss dev communication in general. It was much better than the wall of silence we are met with now. We may get a single blue post every couple of weeks if we are lucky. It's disheartening to see your favorite class/spec in the game struggling, with absolutely no insight as to why, or if the devs even realize it.
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90 Undead Warrior
7870
Hmm . . . what happens when you have direct communication regarding a video game with a bunch of nerdy geeks with low social skills (on average), self esteem issues, and whose parents are more than likely paying for their subscription while the kid sits in their basement?

Uncontrolled nerd rage.

GC needed to make the move he made. The problem is that Blizz hasn't figured out how to fill the void. GC was going to post a blog, but that never really (or hasn't yet) taken off. Players are now raging at this "headless corporate entity". Folks are under the impression that Bliz doesn't really take their feedback into account. And the remaining Blues mostly respond to the worst QQ posts.

I'm hopeful we'll get somewhere new soon, but it's going to need some kind of change from Blizz.

Having a "class advisor(s)" for each class who actually plays the class (all specs for pures, all roles for hybrids, PVE and PVP) might go a long way towards this. These would have to be mini-GCs who can speak about class balance (not just advocates for their class, but for the entire game) and also address concerns that no single designer could (who could possibly speak intelligently about every spec of every class in PVE and PVP?).
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100 Night Elf Death Knight
3335
Hmm . . . what happens when you have direct communication regarding a video game with a bunch of nerdy geeks with low social skills (on average), self esteem issues, and whose parents are more than likely paying for their subscription while the kid sits in their basement?

Uncontrolled nerd rage.

GC needed to make the move he made. The problem is that Blizz hasn't figured out how to fill the void. GC was going to post a blog, but that never really (or hasn't yet) taken off. Players are now raging at this "headless corporate entity". Folks are under the impression that Bliz doesn't really take their feedback into account. And the remaining Blues mostly respond to the worst QQ posts.

I'm hopeful we'll get somewhere new soon, but it's going to need some kind of change from Blizz.

Having a "class advisor(s)" for each class who actually plays the class (all specs for pures, all roles for hybrids, PVE and PVP) might go a long way towards this. These would have to be mini-GCs who can speak about class balance (not just advocates for their class, but for the entire game) and also address concerns that no single designer could (who could possibly speak intelligently about every spec of every class in PVE and PVP?).


I like this idea, however, think of this fully first. Ten individuals playing all three specs, as need be the roles those specs cover. Thirty people covering these different specs might make it more manageable, but who knows.

Still, something should be done soon, time does not seem to be on Blizzard's side.
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85 Dwarf Warrior
4765
03/10/2011 2:00 PMPosted by Nazgûl
I couldn't help but wonder about your mysterious silence.

He is too busy playing his frost mage.
Edited by Drev on 3/10/2011 4:18 PM PST
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85 Undead Warrior
6255
Whenever I read a thread with a response from GC I saw mostly constructive feedback both positive and negative. There was a lot more moderation in the forum so most of the QQ trash going around right now was either deleted, banned, or moved to another forum. It also brought a great connection between the player base and development team which made the game much more crisp.

Now QQ threads and inappropriate responses are a dime a dozen. Changes are going through the PTR despite warnings from the community and players have even more of a negative outlook on the development team.
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100 Draenei Shaman
5440
I don't expect him to start posting again either, but when he stopped posting in forums the plan was that the devs or CMs would be posting regular "blog" updates instead, in a camelot-herald type of way, to keep the channels of communication open, even if they were only one-way. A "So guys, here's what we're talking about this week" kind of thing.

This unequivocally has not happened.

Instead, communication effectively reverted to TBC-era. CMs occasionally post very short carefully worded responses in forums after getting confirmation from developers, but even those are few and far between and we never hear much of anything on developer intentions or overarching vision.

They're clearly reading forums, because they're happy to reply to cute threads about screenshots, their favorite fights, that won't come back to bite them in the butt if they say anything the slightest bit wrong. It must be frustrating to be unable to actually post anything to answer players' questions or concerns. I know if I was hired to be a CM for a hugely well-known game and ended up effectively being a forum mod my job satisfaction wouldn't be sky-high.

Now obviously WoW is still doing extremely well financially, so there's no way to point at the lack of communication and say "See? We stopped posting and population dropped the next day!" So I guess it's impossible to justify spending actilizzard's money on real community management. That's a shame, because getting a professional like Tweety leading CM would do wonders for, well, my personal satisfaction with the game.
Edited by Slant on 3/10/2011 4:55 PM PST
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Community Manager
These forums have always been about players talking to players. We don't want to foster the expectation that it's going to get a blue response if someone tries hard enough (lol I'm replying to a thread calling for a blue). While GC added a lot to these forums (and I say 'these forums' because he only posted in the North America forums) we think we can reach more players, particularly those in other regions, more directly through the blogs, or concerted Q&A's. Blogs also tend to be a better medium for getting the message out there loud and clear, but does have downsides that it removes the conversation that we know is appreciated quite a bit.

While forum posts do lend themselves to that conversational approach, they actually have a lot of downsides to them from our perspective of attempting to get clear and clean information to the players. They aren't very visible is really the first and maybe biggest problem. You can liken forum posts and the information given in them to some of the displeasure surrounding how hotfixes are communicated. I may reply to a thread 20 times and in my #13 reply I say something really important regarding class balance. Who is going to see that? How quickly will that knowledge actually permeate? Will the message be kept clear? Will my clarification in post #17 that explains what people are misunderstanding in #13 be seen by everyone that read #13? People tend not to read past the first blue post in a thread, or skip around and don't read them all, so if you have a correction/addendum to the first post, or just expound upon a thought, it's generally lost on the majority of readers. Blue trackers can help with this, but we're generally not having to explain that "post #13 wasn't the end of the thought and it's being taken out of context" to people who just go to blue trackers. Forum posts also tend to be fairly quickly written by one of us without much in the way of peer-review, and anything written off-the-cuff like a reply to a thread can tend to be more precarious than a more substantive outlet that has an official process of review and correction before its posted (like the blogs). Much to the dismay of many forum goers I'm sure, there's just an infinitely smaller chance we'll say something stupid or mess up in a fully published blog post.

As with anything we do, we never believe we're perfect. There's always room to improve. The blogs may not be the best outlet but we're continually working to improve upon the content we're delivering, and have some pretty exciting stuff planned. We're also working to make the comment system for the blogs a bit more like the forums so conversation can be held there more easily, as well. Of course you've no doubt see we're running a recurring global Ask the Devs Q&A. It's one way where we're hoping to fill that gap of direct developer interaction that the blogs probably just can't hit. We think the Q&A's are going to be extremely popular and fill a big part of what made GC's interactions on here so useful. And we’re going to continue collecting feedback and posting when appropriate, but we'll also be trying to come up with additional ways to facilitate the communication between the developers and players.

Also GC wanted me to let you know: "It's Dr. not Mr., get it right." :)
Edited by Bashiok on 3/10/2011 5:32 PM PST
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85 Blood Elf Paladin
7395
Nice blue post.
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100 Draenei Shaman
5440
we think we can reach more players, particularly those in other regions, more directly through the blogs, or concerted Q&A's. Blogs also tend to be a better medium for getting the message out there loud and clear,

That's fine, and understood, but you have not been keeping the blog up to date with substantial content. The "ask the devs" section is more like it-- but it's been months, and you started that 3 days ago.
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