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Turning over a new leaf.


Alcarinque
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OK Turbine, we all know you visit this site, so listen up.

The deceptive practices need to cease.

Targeted enforcement of the CoC, etc, needs to also cease.

Sacrificing long term customers in favor of short term gain, needs to cease.

Remember that last sale on the Lonelands? I bought it myself when they put it on sale. Then a VERY short time later, they made it free to all players.

They knew exactly what they were doing. Period. There is no way to argue this.

They don’t run things by the seat of their pants. It was planned, pure and simple.

They put it on sale to ‘milk’ it whilst they could before it went totally free.

Doing so was sleazy, and deceptive, and grasping, at the very least, and was absolutely NOT appreciated.

That gave me a taste of what I could expect from the company going forward, and it’s been dead on as a predictor for their future behavior.

And that, in and of itself, is totally unacceptable for a company to be run like this.

But I’d like to clarify something for you.

I’m not Anti-Turbine. I’m Anti-Deceptive-Corporate-Practices and Anti-Shoddy-Customer-Service.

Listen, and listen good.

If Turbine wants it’s customer’s love and respect again, they really, really, really need to pull their heads out of whatever dark and squishy place it currently inhabits and give a damn about their customers again.

Start cleaning up their business practices immediately.

They can start with the following:

· Answer questions asked of them clearly, concisely, and without this vague air that seems to infect every response we get from them.

· Treat customers with dignity and respect. If they value their customers, then try to make your customers FEEL valued.

· Introduce the terminology of “We apologise for…” “We’re sorry about…” “Thank you for…” “We appreciate your…” into the customer facing company correspondence. You’d be surprised how much such things help to defuse tensions.

· Have their customer service ask us one question when we have a problem: “How can we make this right for you, as a customer?”

· Remove any and all ambiguous marketing materials, and focus on what EXACTLY is included in each expansion, update, etc, as is required by laws in many countries.

· (And stick that Soon™ crap where the sun doesn’t shine. Try a real date for once, or at least say something like ‘Mid December’. Try acting like a professional for once. It ceased being funny years ago.)

Is that really too much to ask?

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Here is my list:

  • Make a truthful statement about what kind of combat enhancing items will be in the store (and then stick to it).

  • Clarify what the break-in to the forum database meant, and if you do not know the answer to a question like "did credit card info leak", then make a statement "we don't know". Follow Steam's example.

  • This kind of deception needs to be removed:
    http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?285435-Account-Hacked-Stolen-Info-to-Keep-it-From-Happening-amp-What-to-do-if-it-is-Stolen

    Please be aware that all cases of compromised accounts have had nothing to do with Turbine's security.


  • Improve account safety, starting by going back to having separate in-game passwords separate from website passwords, and hopefully more technical measures (optional to the player) like other MMOs already have.

  • Bring in-line what the rules on their forum as stated are and the rules that are in practice. Right now the two are different and it is deceiving the public. It is false advertising leading to sales. If you want to write "this forum is edited by us any way we want and might be entirely written by staff" that's fine as long as you state it.

  • Publish, as an official document, what exactly happens when you switch between different payment forms, namely from VIP to Premium. Right now there is only a huge user-contributed post there. That one needs to be reviewed by the devs and reposted as an official document. As it is there are cost-traps that constitute false advertising leading to money taken with no service provided. This needs to stop.
  • Stop "fake" in-game drops. Stat tomes, which are a combat power enhancing item to be bought for cash, are supposedly also dropped in-game which is an excuse for selling them for cash. Statistical analysis by the player base has shown that the drop rate is impractical, it is way too low to count in the context of this excuse. Stat tomes are effectively a for-cash item. The way this is currently arranged is deliberately deceiving the public and it needs to stop.

  • Stop banning people for e.g. reporting gold spammer and taking many days, plus potentially international phonecalls, and a lot of effort on part of the innocent player to get their accounts hack.

  • Burn the European player database with characters to a DVD and store it in Europe, so that you can move over accounts with characters indefinitely.

  • Never again ask a player who lost things due to a break-in to supply a list of items the characters had. Fix your databases to take snapshots. You already have the code, it's used for my.lotro.com. In particular, don't make this spit-in-face ludicrous demand after you leaked the forum password database after you forced us against our will to use the same password for forum and game.

  • Do not charge for broken content (Dragon raid).

  • Stop charging for things twice. Examples include: quest packs bought as Premium, providing no value when going VIP. Quest packs bought be being VIP, then buying quest packs again as part of an expansion package. This looks really bad.

Optional items that would greatly enhance the game experience:

  • Stop making sweeping changes to the classes that are nice enough but don't enhance the game. Spend the coding time on fixing bugs.

  • Stop displaying in-game advertising at the very least for stuff I already bought.

In the end it comes down to what some of us have pointed out to Turbine for a long time:

You have a game based on the Tolkien Franchise. The point about this is that you get a more mature and steady (and wealthy) player base than a random cartoonish MMORPG. That is what you got in the first years of the LOTRO game. Now you are trying to deceive us in all kinds of manners because you decided that this particular game is your guinea pig for developing microtransactions and selling your company. Some of the aspects involved in that seem to be too incompatible with our goals for you to openly communicate to us.

It won't work. You have a mature audience that doesn't tuck in their tails and runs for the hills on the first sign of trouble. Turbine has effectively shut down all communications with the player base on any kind of controversial topic. Usually that means invalidating achievements that the existing player base spent a lot of time, money and personal energy on. While being actively deceived about the state and direction of the game. It won't work because we have enough people with us who know how to resist when somebody tries to deceive or strongarm us. It's what being an adult means. It's the audience you wanted, remember?

Plus, your game will lose enough subscribers for it to die if you don't improve the relationship with the player base sometime soon.

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1) I can read a post where "paragraph" & "sentence" are not synonymous.

2) You don't have to hit an extra return to emphasise the distinction; although

3) Maybe you didn't realise that? If not, now is a good time to learn.

4) Alca, you know what I've been saying about Turbine bashers? Right now, you're a basher. You're not here for LOTROCommunity; you're here to whack Turbine. That's not what this forum is for. Have a breather; have a KitKat. Take a rest from starting new threads; take a rest from posting. We know you don't like Turbine. Give us a rest. Tell us about yourself, tell us what you like; tell us something DIFFERENT! ;)

FIVE: I don't trust Turbine's stewardship of the game either. But I also rarely start a thread. Does that say anything to you? MueR / Rhy is trying to start a community here, not a slagfest. I also garden. The veg will be stifled by weeds. Are you aiming to be veg or weed? {NB: There are no other choices, before anyone asks!}

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In the end it comes down to what some of us have pointed out to Turbine for a long time:

You have a game based on the Tolkien Franchise. The point about this is that you get a more mature and steady (and wealthy) player base than a random cartoonish MMORPG. That is what you got in the first years of the LOTRO game. Now you are trying to deceive us in all kinds of manners because you decided that this particular game is your guinea pig for developing microtransactions and selling your company. Some of the aspects involved in that seem to be too incompatible with our goals for you to openly communicate to us.

It won't work. You have a mature audience that doesn't tuck in their tails and runs for the hills on the first sign of trouble. Turbine has effectively shut down all communications with the player base on any kind of controversial topic. Usually that means invalidating achievements that the existing player base spent a lot of time, money and personal energy on. While being actively deceived about the state and direction of the game. It won't work because we have enough people with us who know how to resist when somebody tries to deceive or strongarm us. It's what being an adult means. It's the audience you wanted, remember?

Plus, your game will lose enough subscribers for it to die if you don't improve the relationship with the player base sometime soon.

Very well stated, Darmokk.

+ digital vorpal bunnies for you!

/\ /\

o o

>o<

|-|

Edit... aww, my bunneh got squished. Oh well.

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FIVE: I don't trust Turbine's stewardship of the game either. But I also rarely start a thread. Does that say anything to you?

Yes, it tells me you are a commenter, and not a creator. Nothing wrong with that. Some people create things, others follow what's been created and chime in their two cents.

MueR / Rhy is trying to start a community here, not a slagfest.

I thought I read that this forum was a test project for new forum software and a backup of CM forum archives.

In which case, and it's only a test project, why would MueR really care what the current conversation was about, as long as the ToS are mostly followed.

Is this a 'test project' or has this morphed into a full fleged 'LOTRO Community' complete with the inability to speak freely about what members wish to?

And, if I may ask, if it's just supposed to be a happy, cheery, Pro-Turbine-can-do-no-wrong community, what's the point? A community of what? If nothing changes over there, there won't BE a community based upon LOTRO. It will just be a community of FORMER LOTRO players. Unless everyone is going to keep buying Turbine's products no matter how you are treated. If that's what you want, then hey, don't let me spoil your party.

It was only AFTER I'd joined this community that I found out that it was a repository for EU/Codemasters forum stuff.

I joined it because I was invited to by a current member (who, is none of your business), and because it looked like it was a place where people could speak their mind. An ALTERNATIVE LOTRO Community, so to speak.

Also, the vehemently 'Turbine can do no wrong crowd' over at the other forum oft referred to this place in the negative, which also led me to take a look at it. ;)

Turbine sees this place as a negative entity.

Like it or not, that's what this community is known for. That's what Turbine sees it as.

No matter how much arse you kiss, you will never remove that moniker, nor rescind the fact that they now infract people over THERE for merely linking to the site over HERE.

The vast majority of the traffic to this site during the past week or so, I'd say has been from the many threads that I, and others, have created.

I also garden. The veg will be stifled by weeds. Are you aiming to be veg or weed? {NB: There are no other choices, before anyone asks!}

No one is forcing you to read it. Go 'garden'.

And if I've had the wrong impression about the purpose of the community, or MueR wishes me to leave, all he has to do is ask, and I'll be very happy to oblige. It is his forum after all. I'm just a guest here.

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Raedwulf, difficulties with paragraph spacing aside, I think that this thread is not only useful, it is overdue.

What we should have done for some time is take those who think Turbine is whack right now and let them state, specifically, what kind of changes they want.

Only good can come out of laying out specific demands of specific things to happen, as opposed to saying "yeeees this game sucks royal rotten donkey balls now".

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1) I can read a post where "paragraph" & "sentence" are not synonymous.

2) You don't have to hit an extra return to emphasise the distinction; although

3) Maybe you didn't realise that? If not, now is a good time to learn.

4) Alca, you know what I've been saying about Turbine bashers? Right now, you're a basher. You're not here for LOTROCommunity; you're here to whack Turbine. That's not what this forum is for. Have a breather; have a KitKat. Take a rest from starting new threads; take a rest from posting. We know you don't like Turbine. Give us a rest. Tell us about yourself, tell us what you like; tell us something DIFFERENT! ;)

FIVE: I don't trust Turbine's stewardship of the game either. But I also rarely start a thread. Does that say anything to you? MueR / Rhy is trying to start a community here, not a slagfest. I also garden. The veg will be stifled by weeds. Are you aiming to be veg or weed? {NB: There are no other choices, before anyone asks!}

This makes me feel a little better about this forum community. I am unhappy with Turbine, but I definitely don't hate them. I agree wholeheartedly with MOST of what is contained in the top two posts in this thread - Turbine really does need to stop the deception and get back to being worthy of a customer's trust and loyalty. But I WILL NOT participate in a community whose only purpose in life is to bash Turbine. That won't accomplish anything, and every time somebody posts a Turbine-bashing post, it just discredits the whole community. I was, in fact, staying away after I read a seemingly endless wall of Turbine bashing by people who are angry and aren't thinking very well about what they are doing or saying. That also has to stop. Yes, you folks are mad. We can see that. You have good reason to vent. But do it carefully. Show some integrity of your own or you don't have the RIGHT to talk about Turbine's integrity.

I will continue to observe. I'm being open about that. Not on behalf of Turbine - Turbine has already lost my loyalty and my trust so I am certainly not going to do them any special favors right now. But I want to see if this community can be responsible and mature about what it is saying. That's what it takes to make a difference in the world. Blowing steam in everyone's faces just turns everyone away and makes you look like an intolerant fool. I don't think anyone here wants to deliberately look like that, so exercise some caution. Be factual and precise. And above and beyond everything else, don't bloat things out of proportion because you discredit EVERYONE who posts here - hence my caution at this point. Posting here affects my credibility too.

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Your points 1 and 2, I wasn’t going to address, but you actually took the time to detail your petty dislike of how I format my posts and paragraphs. Sorry friend, but your dislikes are not my problem, in any way shape or form. I find it easier to read, vs many posters who post in huge walls of text and don’t know what the return key even IS. So you post the way you want, and I’ll post the way I want. Thanks.

Your point 3 was dismissive and insulting. I know how to write, thank you. I choose to format my writing on forums they way I do for a very specific reason, as I detailed above. So, please, stop being petty. At least I don’t baffle you with a wall of horrible spelling and grammar, as is par the course on most forums.

Your point 4. No, actually I joined the Community because that’s what I thought it was. An ALTERNATIVE Community that didn’t lick the hand of the corporation.

Perhaps if you aren’t liking what I’m posting, YOU may perhaps take a break and go do something else, as after all, no one is holding a musket to your arse and making you read this.

Like it or not, I’ve seen about a dozen or so very active posters here.

Remove those very active people, and the forum becomes (or returns to) a low traffic archive for the old CM stuff, with the occasional, ‘How are you Bob?” “I’m fine, how are you George?” “Oh pretty good, thanks for asking, how are the kids?”

In other words… boring, bland, stagnant and static.

If that’s what you really do want… hey, I have no problem with that. To each their own.

I joined this community for one reason and one reason only.

I thought it had grapes. That really, REALLY impressed me.

It’s starting to look more like raisins.

Oh well, I think I’ll take your advice and go do something else for a while. Cheerio.

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I thought I read that this forum was a test project for new forum software and a backup of CM forum archives.

In which case, and it's only a test project, why would MueR really care what the current conversation was about, as long as the ToS are mostly followed.

MueR's exact words:

This forum is not here just to rant at Turbine, nor as a completely unmoderated forum, stop portraying it as such. (link)

But the way I've seen people announce it as the haven to rant just isn't correct. The only thing you'll achieve is to get people in a much more defensive mindset. They'll be much more inclined to defend the policies as "not as bad as you say".

This forum does have more free speech. But, and this is the inevitable but, free speech has it's limits. If everything is kept civil, write all you want (as long as it's not against the forum rules). If someone starts trolling or flame-baiting, you can expect a moderator to step in.

Now, for those who don't like walls of text, here's the short summary of the text below: keep it decent, keep it friendly.

Still reading? Okay, here goes:

As some of you may know, I'm a moderator on a big Dutch forum. Counting over 400,000 members, it's a challenge to balance moderation with keeping the forum fun and interesting for all. Over-moderation will kill the forum, as it chases new members away. Under-moderation will kill the forum, as it chases the "old guard" away, as they don't want to answer the same question over and over.

How we handle this over at Tweakers.net is pretty simple. Every section of the forum has a group of moderators, lead by an administrator. If you disagree with a moderator's decision, you talk to the moderator. If you two can't work it out, you can talk to his or her administrator. If that fails, there's a body called "Doktersteam". They are mediators between the user and crew. They can overturn bans, though they will hardly ever get involved in matters like locked topics.

One thing everyone needs to understand about moderation (yes Sapience, that also means you, should you be reading), is that moderation is done to keep the community a nice place to be. Moderators should not moderate for the sake of moderating. They should moderate because someone is spoiling the atmosphere of the community. You should ban someone who continually derails topics with the intention to derail topics. You should educate those who do it without realising what they do.

Finding the correct approach to moderation is difficult. Every moderator has some part human in them, ergo they make mistakes. The difference between a good and a bad moderator is their ability to admit their mistakes. If you cannot tell a user that it was indeed wrong to close their topic, you should not be a moderator. If you do not grant the user explanation why you closed their topic, you should not be a moderator. Explaining that can be as simple as "I found your topic in violation of policy this and that, because ..". If you simply supply the first part, you're not moderating, you are dictating.

What was I writing about again? Oh yes, free speech. Your right to free speech on this forum is limited to what the community finds acceptable. However, as with any forum, there is no democracy. On the internet, everyone is equal, when not on someone's turf. When on someone's turf, that someone needs to lay down some basic rules, or things turn ugly. When that turf is home to a large(ish) community, the rules will automatically be more strict as with for example, a kinship forum. Simply because there's more people to deal with, who all have feelings and sensitivities.

Free speech is an often misunderstood term, just like "free internet". While the internet should be a free medium, it being a free medium should not allow you to do everything you want on it. Spamming and phishing are some of the milder examples. While the dictionary meaning of free speech means unrestricted speech, that simply is not feasible. It's not in the real world, it certainly is not on the internet. Without the ground rules of what can't be said and done, chaos ensues. If there are no ground rules to point at, limiting free speech appears random to others. With ground rules, you can say "This doesn't belong here, because .. <point at rules, chapter 31, section 15, subsection 12, paragraph 4>". (link)

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Last post for a while:

The intention of my OP wasn't 'Turbine Bashing', it was to take them to task for things that are being done wrongly and to plea for it to be addressed.

Everything I stated that they were engaging in was cold hard fact, that could be proven by many here very easily.

If you think that the purpose of the post is 'bashing', then, I don't know what to tell you really.

I have more to do with my time than 'bash' Turbine on an alternative board.

I post because I care and because I want them to DO something about it.

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Others here want the same accountability from the company, but there's a myriad of ways they do so. Some have pursued complaints with the BBB. Others have negotiated directly with the company. Others still have gone to governmental figures for advice. And yet others have chosen to keep the rest of the LOTROcommunity apprised when things over at Turbine don't add up. The remainder are watching and waiting, or simply letting the Turbine issues slide off.

Am I going to say that my way or this-or-that person's way is better? Not as a knee-jerk reaction, and at least not without trying out their methods for myself.

What some are trying to pass along is that this site is not set up as being inherently anti-Turbine. It's set up for discussions, largely those involving the LOTRO game. If some of those discussions involve where Turbine goes wrong with LOTRO and its customer base, that's going to be seen as only a part of a natural progression of convos in a reasonably moderated setting.

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How Turbine can start to gain our trust and business again?

In-Game: The GMs simply don't have the tools needed to provide an appropriate level of support. "I can't help you, submit a bug report is the most common response". They need to invest some development time into making the GMs more powerful and keeping them better informed on all issues and bugs.

The Store: They've been Free 2 Play for long enough now that there should be a coherent and predictable policy on what goes in the store. They should not create new annoyances in-game and then offer the solution in the store, e.g., relic removal scrolls or xp/rep acceleration scrolls for insufficient quests to reach max level or gain kindred reputation with Theodred.

The Forums: Return to the interaction style of Patience. She would often say; "I'll take that up with the dev team, but no promises". We had a sense that there was someone on our side that worked inside of Turbine voicing our concerns. You know, a community representative (CR). Now, it feels much more like an Us vs. Them interaction and CR stands for something else, something vulgar.

Quality: They need some serious development process improvements. Devs are clearly not properly unit testing their code before submitting it for the next build. I suspect that there are no peer code reviews. QA is on too short of a timeline and apparently powerless to delay a release. Beta testing is worthless because it happens too late in the cycle, countless bugs are reported that still make it onto the live servers. Doing things right the first time might slow you down, but it ends up saving time in the long run.

Transparency: There should be a public release calendar with fixed dates clearly differentiated from dates that will likely move. It should include a list of major changes for each release (new instances, class changes, epic books, etc.). There should be a public bug list. We should have the ability to add more information about reported bugs and it should have a status of the fix (under investigation, included in next release, etc.). Exploitable bugs would obviously have to be hidden from the list.

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I'm pretty sure it's too late for them to get me to buy anything they make again. But the biggest things on my list are:

1) Fix the security issues. This includes getting WB to sell at cost authenticators for people. 48 hour delay before a character is actually deleted and an email is sent to you whenever a character is deleted.

2) Use rollbacks to recover characters.

3) Release content when it's ready, not when there's an arbitrary deadline

4) Fire Sapience and stop trying to muzzle forum users

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I'm pretty sure it's too late for them to get me to buy anything they make again. But the biggest things on my list are:

1) Fix the security issues. This includes getting WB to sell at cost authenticators for people. 48 hour delay before a character is actually deleted and an email is sent to you whenever a character is deleted.

2) Use rollbacks to recover characters.

3) Release content when it's ready, not when there's an arbitrary deadline

4) Fire Sapience and stop trying to muzzle forum users

The last one won't make a difference, if their customer service culture doesn't change.

I used to work in a very high-pressure customer service environment, and, now that I've moved on to a different part of the company, I still keep tabs on what goes on in the department I came from. Customer service there is at a pretty high standard, and it even raised the expectations that the customer service reps have, with regards to their own purchasing/tech support experiences on a personal level. However, every so often, there would be a bad apple who just didn't care about the customer, thinking that "The company pays my salary not the customer, so bugger them." Such a person would stand out in stark contrast to his/her peers, and the person would be given a choice: conform with the customer service standard or find the exit. There was no middle ground.

If the customer service culture changed at Turbine, certain people there would also stand out and be funneled into the same type of choice I mentioned above. So, if you're going to ask for #4, I'd recommend making it a request to improve the customer service culture where it is lacking.

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You have a game based on the Tolkien Franchise. The point about this is that you get a more mature and steady (and wealthy) player base than a random cartoonish MMORPG. That is what you got in the first years of the LOTRO game. Now you are trying to deceive us in all kinds of manners because you decided that this particular game is your guinea pig for developing microtransactions and selling your company. Some of the aspects involved in that seem to be too incompatible with our goals for you to openly communicate to us.

Okay Darmokk, I've changed my mind :) It's not over the top, but it still does one little bad thing. We don't know Turbine's intent and we shouldn't be trying to suggest intend that we don't know for sure about. That's a pretty minor infraction, so this is a warning only. LOL. Just kidding pal.

I like to communicate with a couple of the big fanbois over there. Most people declare them as such, but I know them better than that. They are just well informed because they have connections inside the company.

I don't think selling Turbine was a choice. He didn't say that precisely. Instead he said a lot of little things that allowed me to read the fine print between the lines. And I will be honest, I don't know if I read correctly or not, and he can't say it outright without betraying his own ethics.

Do you recall a couple of instances of turbine acquiring funding in the amount of 40 million dollars? Yeah, it happened twice that I know of. It doesn't matter who you are, that's a chunk of money, and you are going to want it back. 80 million total, and didn't both of those come from the direction of Time/Warner?

Anyway, it all worked out to not being much of a choice. Warner supported them when they needed it and then when the return was proving to be too small, they ACQUIRED Turbine. That's a nice way of putting it.

Don't quote me, please. If I had something more solid than that, I'd say so.

MMO development is an expensive venture these days. Players are jerks. We DEMAND more and more because the technology is right there in front of our noses. And the developers have to spend more and more to satisfy us. We want voice acting. Well, Star Wars has spent 300 million dollars + on voice acting alone. A hundred million on the development of the game. WE are pushing companies so far into debt they can't even see the other end of the tunnel.

That's not really our fault and I don't blame myself for a natural impulse to want a better game. But to my mind, MMO development is one of the most dangerous ventures on the planet. I think Turbine found that out the hard way. No evidence to back up the claim, but it sure looks that way.

We don't know why turbine sold. They were rather proud of the fact that they were an independent company of gamers making games. I don't think they just gave that up willingly.

And if that's the case, the rest of the story is pretty clear. These are not Turbine's decisions. They come down from higher up.

Argh. I've got dinner sitting in front of me, so I am gonna have to finish this later guys. BB in awhile.

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Okay Darmokk, I've changed my mind :) It's not over the top, but it still does one little bad thing. We don't know Turbine's intent and we shouldn't be trying to suggest intend that we don't know for sure about. That's a pretty minor infraction, so this is a warning only. LOL. Just kidding pal.

Well I based the paragraph that you quoted mostly on listening to Fernando Paiz' PAX speech, and on the fact that WB openly said that acquiring the technology for microtransaction was the primary motivation for buying Turbine.

Note that WB actually has to be truthful about this because they are a public company and these things influence stock price. Lying about this can lead to serious trouble since there are enough shareholders with lawyers at their hands.

I'll try to re-word the paragraph in a more coherent manner, I don't like the tone myself.

I like to communicate with a couple of the big fanbois over there. Most people declare them as such, but I know them better than that. They are just well informed because they have connections inside the company.

I don't think selling Turbine was a choice. He didn't say that precisely. Instead he said a lot of little things that allowed me to read the fine print between the lines. And I will be honest, I don't know if I read correctly or not, and he can't say it outright without betraying his own ethics.

Do you recall a couple of instances of turbine acquiring funding in the amount of 40 million dollars? Yeah, it happened twice that I know of. It doesn't matter who you are, that's a chunk of money, and you are going to want it back. 80 million total, and didn't both of those come from the direction of Time/Warner?

I am not convinced. If you review the board composition published for Turbine you see what I think are reasonably independent VC people (of course that means VC organizations). I realize those could be WB backed, too lazy to check right now.

Anyway, it all worked out to not being much of a choice. Warner supported them when they needed it and then when the return was proving to be too small, they ACQUIRED Turbine. That's a nice way of putting it.

Then why the rush to microtransactions before the acquisition?

This only lead to a higher sales price and hence WB would leak money to shareholders other than their (possible) own VC money.

Don't quote me, please. If I had something more solid than that, I'd say so.

MMO development is an expensive venture these days. Players are jerks. We DEMAND more and more because the technology is right there in front of our noses. And the developers have to spend more and more to satisfy us. We want voice acting. Well, Star Wars has spent 300 million dollars + on voice acting alone. A hundred million on the development of the game. WE are pushing companies so far into debt they can't even see the other end of the tunnel.

That's not really our fault and I don't blame myself for a natural impulse to want a better game. But to my mind, MMO development is one of the most dangerous ventures on the planet. I think Turbine found that out the hard way. No evidence to back up the claim, but it sure looks that way.

We don't know why turbine sold. They were rather proud of the fact that they were an independent company of gamers making games. I don't think they just gave that up willingly.

Well, once you let the VC people in there is no "willingly" anymore. We know for sure they let them in, we just don't know how much of the VC money was backed by WB.

And if that's the case, the rest of the story is pretty clear. These are not Turbine's decisions. They come down from higher up.

Argh. I've got dinner sitting in front of me, so I am gonna have to finish this later guys. BB in awhile.

No question about the rough MMO environment.

It really boils down to whether Turbine's board (how much if it WB controlled is TBD) made the switch to microtransactions accompanied with effectively dumping large parts of the existing userbase based on their own.

The way I see it there are three possibilities:

  • 1 - Initially, the decision was made seeing it as a tool for the own games to survive. By a board controlled by Turbine-loving people.
  • or 2 - it was seen as a tool to sell the games or the company (effectively the same thing). By a VC controlled board.
  • or 3 - WB was controlling it all the time and wanted (for some reason) to have the microtransaction model developed and tested in an environment that at that point in time was not directly theirs. By a WB controlled board.

I still believe that #2 is the answer. The China/Asia argument comes in. The real need for f2p models comes in in China and they don't care about Tolkien over there. That makes me think we are the guinea pig. Theory #3 has the problem that I don't see why WB delays the purchase. #1 also has the problem that they made an outsider head of LOTRO. That's not the way to go if you want to drag your existing game out of the swamp, then you have no choice but deal with existing customers.

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Well I based the paragraph that you quoted mostly on listening to Fernando Paiz' PAX speech, and on the fact that WB openly said that acquiring the technology for microtransaction was the primary motivation for buying Turbine.

Note that WB actually has to be truthful about this because they are a public company and these things influence stock price. Lying about this can lead to serious trouble since there are enough shareholders with lawyers at their hands.

I'll try to re-word the paragraph in a more coherent manner, I don't like the tone myself.

I am not convinced. If you review the board composition published for Turbine you see what I think are reasonably independent VC people (of course that means VC organizations). I realize those could be WB backed, too lazy to check right now.

Then why the rush to microtransactions before the acquisition?

This only lead to a higher sales price and hence WB would leak money to shareholders other than their (possible) own VC money.

Well, once you let the VC people in there is no "willingly" anymore. We know for sure they let them in, we just don't know how much of the VC money was backed by WB.

No question about the rough MMO environment.

It really boils down to whether Turbine's board (how much if it WB controlled is TBD) made the switch to microtransactions accompanied with effectively dumping large parts of the existing userbase based on their own.

The way I see it there are three possibilities:

  • 1 - Initially, the decision was made seeing it as a tool for the own games to survive. By a board controlled by Turbine-loving people.
  • or 2 - it was seen as a tool to sell the games or the company (effectively the same thing). By a VC controlled board.
  • or 3 - WB was controlling it all the time and wanted (for some reason) to have the microtransaction model developed and tested in an environment that at that point in time was not directly theirs. By a WB controlled board.

I still believe that #2 is the answer. The China/Asia argument comes in. The real need for f2p models comes in in China and they don't care about Tolkien over there. That makes me think we are the guinea pig. Theory #3 has the problem that I don't see why WB delays the purchase. #1 also has the problem that they made an outsider head of LOTRO. That's not the way to go if you want to drag your existing game out of the swamp, then you have no choice but deal with existing customers.

Okay, those are some very convincing arguments and I can't refute them. And the only thing that makes me want to reject it is the handful of people I know there. But none of them are in any position to resist what their company decides to do. They may not like it but in the end, they just work there.

I've always had a lot of faith in Turbine because they had some good souls in that company. Still do, in fact. But they seem especially hell-bent on destroying the faith customers had in them. I know they've already shattered mine. It doesn't take a revelation like this - their own actions did it.

Thanks for taking the time to explain your thoughts, Darmokk. And like I said, I had already changed my mind about the one part of your post I was concerned about. Your list and the list above yours are some things Turbine and Warner would do well to think about. I don't think they fully realize the power a million determined adults can pull together when they need it. They don't want to find out. But if they don't change the way this game is being managed soon, they just might.

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Do you recall a couple of instances of turbine acquiring funding in the amount of 40 million dollars? Yeah, it happened twice that I know of. It doesn't matter who you are, that's a chunk of money, and you are going to want it back. 80 million total, and didn't both of those come from the direction of Time/Warner?

Anyway, it all worked out to not being much of a choice. Warner supported them when they needed it and then when the return was proving to be too small, they ACQUIRED Turbine. That's a nice way of putting it.

Well that would indeed explain a lot, wouldn't it?

MMO development is an expensive venture these days. Players are jerks. We DEMAND more and more because the technology is right there in front of our noses. And the developers have to spend more and more to satisfy us. We want voice acting. Well, Star Wars has spent 300 million dollars + on voice acting alone. A hundred million on the development of the game. WE are pushing companies so far into debt they can't even see the other end of the tunnel.

300 Million? I'd have to say, that's beyond moronic. They could have gotten Star Wars fans to voice it for free, or just given them a copy of the game for their time. Star Wars runs a huge gamut, and there are fans that obviously have incredible talent in various professions. I'm sure there are some talented voice actors out there, or even people who's voices would work quite well who don't do it as their normal profession. They could just have try-outs. 300 million vs zero. Yea, they're really smart.

We don't know why turbine sold. They were rather proud of the fact that they were an independent company of gamers making games. I don't think they just gave that up willingly.

Nor do I. They were VERY proud of that fact, 'back in the day'. The culture change at the company has been nothing short of amazing, and not in a good way.

And if that's the case, the rest of the story is pretty clear. These are not Turbine's decisions. They come down from higher up.

And if this IS the case, the WB/Turbine boycott that I mentioned a few threads ago, makes even more sense.

The more and more I read, and the more I think about it, the more it looks like Turbine is being drug along for the ride, and nothing will change unless WB is affected directly. I don't think they'd even flinch if Turbine went completely belly up.

I firmly believe that they did exactly what they said they did in acquiring Turbine. Their micro-transaction technology.

Once they've milked LOTRO for all the quick cash they can, they'll either close it down, or assign another crew to it to milk it some more. Maybe taking it 100% F2P this time, and just charging for everything in the Turbine Store.

Personally, it's looking more and more like we'll never see Mordor.

And I have yet to see a singular statement from Turbine that would make me think otherwise.

There's no commitment there. Neither to quality of their current releases, nor to the real endgame at Mount Doom.

And that is almost too sad for words.

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It's too early for doomsaying. We don't have enough information either way.

For all we know they could do what the Eve developers did, put in new producers and community relations team and ask us "ok assuming we want you back, what we gotta do?". These thing are totally unpredictable from the outside.

The interesting part here is that many of our concerns would not involve money to fix. You see if you demand "larger expansions for less money" that's a problem if there is no money. But a lot of things listed here cost nothing except pride.

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The bottom line is that people want very few and very simple things.

1.) They want Turbine to be accountable and admit they've made mistakes.

2.) Saying their sorry for the way they've 'failed to connect' with their customers wouldn't hurt either.

But I agree. The highest cost here is pride.

What's that old saying? Ah yes, here it is:

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

Commonly misquoted as 'Pride cometh before a fall'. But you get the idea.

It's too early for doomsaying. We don't have enough information either way.

Well I wouldn't exactly call what I wrote 'doom-saying', more like the logical assumption based on the fact that WB bought Turbine for it's technology, and could give a rip less about Turbine's customers, or Turbine's reputation for that matter.

Think about it. IF they DID, they'd be DOING something about it. And they aren't.

Maybe they think the average gamer is too stupid to figure out that Turbine = WB now.

If you've heard Turbine commit to seeing the game through all the way to the gates of Mount Doom, I'd love to see where they say that. If you seen WB make a similar statement about supporting Turbine financially to see LOTRO to the real 'endgame', I'd also love to see that.

I'm not saying the sky is falling. I'm just looking at whether the parent company gives a crap about the product it acquired. And thus far, the answer is no. Take from that what you may about how it pertains to the longevity of the game.

But I'll say this: As long as they can keep increasing their quarterly revenue, LOTRO is in no danger. But if they start dropping, venture capitalists see that as time to cut and run, and it's anyone's guess after that.

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I have seen post saying from $80 million to $150 million for the entire game, which is a huge amount. The pre-order in the US is $59.95. If half of that goes back to Bioware, and 1 million people beet it and sub for an average of 6 months at $14.99 amount, this will recover around $120 million. So they could break even in under a year if they get over 1 million players, which they will most likely do at least in the first few months

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I have seen post saying from $80 million to $150 million for the entire game, which is a huge amount. The pre-order in the US is $59.95. If half of that goes back to Bioware, and 1 million people beet it and sub for an average of 6 months at $14.99 amount, this will recover around $120 million. So they could break even in under a year if they get over 1 million players, which they will most likely do at least in the first few months

Indeed. From what I've heard (nothing breaking the NDA) from those in the Beta, SWTOR is pretty bug-free and rather fun to play. One person suggested it is ridiculously fun, so that sounds like it'll have a good chance to have a smooth launch. And if the game is as fun as many say, it'll hold onto a lot of those pre-order players for at least a few months, meaning SWTOR is almost guaranteed to be a big money-maker.

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