Uplink Analysis: MMO Communities

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on December 10, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a bi-weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

Last week, we turned the conversation towards you and the communities you like spending time with:

What are your favorite places on the Internet to hang out and chat about games? What attracts you to those communities?

jleithart: What attracts me is the members and whether or not there is logical reason behind people's opinions.
real_lethality: I'm a big fan of the official forums for a game. For me, that's where you get the best discussion from the most dedicated players.
StarWarsDaddy: Typically anyplace that is *NOT* the official forums. Too much trolling, QQ'ing, and general, overall nastiness.
jleithart: Another huge attraction is a site that is active by the moderators so new information gets handed out quickly.
BlackBigBang: I like to hang out and chat about games on! The community is great and they have a wildstar-guide!
AgentNardz: Honestly, almost all my game chat is on FB with friends where we can have a meaningful discussion away from the constant trolling.
jleithart:@AgentNardz Having to sift through trolls is a huge pain and the bigger a forum gets the lower the collective IQ; see /r/gaming.
Mark_Mahoon: For me it's the official forums of a game. But normally I chat with people from my Guild via our personal forum or TS3.
KingsIsleGamer: Well I use Twitter and Facebook, however if were talking about WildStar then without any doubt WildStar Central.
ValkavGaming: It's mostly about finding like-minded gamers with common interests.
Malisent: With so many complainers on official forums, I use Reddit (<3 to see devs there) or specialty forums (i.e. 'Wildstar Healers').

Team_WildStar: Seems like we have a few categories here: Official forums, fansites, multigame sites, and social networks. Which is the best/worst?
real_lethality: I don't think we've yet found "the way forward" for gaming communities. A focus on a great mobile experience is a must!
grieger: I personally hate forums but honestly for a specific game, the game's own community/forums area is where it's usually at.
qn2Quid: I prefer the official game site and forum for in depth information about the game, but social media for news and updates.
Mark_Mahoon: I find multigaming sites like buffed, ign or else not dedicated enough. And the forums are a little bit too trolly for my taste.
Paeroka: Blogs, actually. They have a comfortable, cozy atmosphere while being "smallish" (compared to official forums).

We asked our own Troy "Aether" Hewitt, Community Director, to step up to the plate and share his thoughts on gaming communities:

As community nerds, we've put a lot of thought into the kinds of tools we want to use to support a growing and active community. Community managers, by trade, carry with them a dream list of resources based on the trials and tribulations of jobs past. That list includes answers to questions like "Should we have official forums?" and "What kind of support are we providing to fansites of all sizes?"

To make one thing clear at the outset, we do plan on having official forums. We are currently in the midst of putting a few different software packages through their paces, so we can find the forum solution that has all the administrative tools we need, while providing our players the best features available. We are well aware of the challenges that official forums bring: signal to noise and all that. Which is why we are committed to splitting our time between communicating on our official forums, and spending real quality time talking with the communities that form around places like /r/WildStar and WildStar Central.

To add to that challenge, WildStar is a global game. 2013 brings a lot of great opportunities as we begin to grow our communications team to meet that global challenge. It also means that we will spend a lot more time reaching out to sites like JeuxOnline, one of our newest French fansites WildStar-Guide, and W*Online DE across the ocean, to make sure they get as much love as our North American communities do.

But our community outreach doesn't stop at forums. Our team structure is such that we aim to have a clear understanding of who's who on every server we run. It takes extra work, but I believe that each server is an ecosystem unto itself, and requires special attention to understand concerns unique to those communities. Sure, there are certain to be adjustments to the game that have implications across the WildStar community as a whole, but every gamer knows that each server has its own personality - and it is our intention to support those social dynamics on a team level.

Our team philosophy is different than a lot of gaming communities, especially in terms of transparency. While we can't always share every detail of our plans, we are quickly approaching the time when those kinds of barriers are fewer and far between. 2013 introduces opportunities for us to share what's going on behind the scenes in more detail, and that means more frequent interactions with the people who are working on features like Combat, Housing, Tradeskills, and a host of incredible features we will be unveiling in the coming months.

I want to thank everyone that contributed to last week's discussion. Your feedback certainly validated what we think is important in the care and feeding of a vibrant gaming community: finding the players and interacting with them wherever they are, rather than forcing them to come to you.


Troilus J. Hewittington III
(Ed. Note: This is what happens when you let Scooter proofread posts)

What do you think about our community plans? Let us know on Twitter at @Team_WildStar and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Thanks to everyone who participated in last week's discussion, and have a great weekend!

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