Archive for August 9th, 2012

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Funcommunication

August 9, 2012

Everyone gets those warm, fuzzy feelings for a company when they make a good product, but for me and many others that’s only a part of the story. When it comes to MMOs and the game makers that produce them, quality customer care and communication can go a long way in making up the rest of it.

A few days ago, my husband and I were playing The Secret World and had the misfortune of running into a bugged quest, one of those profoundly and irreversibly screwed up situations with a stuck objective which could only be fixed with a petition to a GM. It was the first time since I started playing this game that I had to do this, but I’d heard nothing but good things from many of my friends who have had contact with customer service, so I was admittedly quite curious as to what my own experience would be like.

Honestly? I was pleasantly surprised. On a Saturday evening, right smack in the middle of a busy celebration weekend, both my husband’s and my tickets were answered by a helpful in-game representative within ten minutes, and within another five we were all fixed up and ready to go. Let’s face it, bugged quests are irritating as all hell and no one ever likes running into them, but the sting sure is lessened by a prompt response and swift resolution to the problem. I was very satisfied.

Granted, based on the inevitable complaints on the forums, not everyone has been as fortunate. So maybe you can say that my husband and I just happened to hit the GM lottery.

Still, no one can deny the other ways that Funcom has attempted to reach out to their customer base and fans of their game. From their efforts, I gather there has been a push to improve customer service and communication since the days of Age of Conan, especially in the realm of social media.

For the most part, it’s been pretty effective on me. Recall the /headdesk inducing chat bug that plagued TSW for weeks, at a time when the game is still so new and getting to know your fellow players is of the utmost importance. Several choice words not limited to “unacceptable” and “game breaking” came to mind, but while I can’t speak for others, I know I for one was immediately appeased when I saw this update post and understood that they were working on it and that the problem was more complex than expected. Well, that and Indiana Jones references get me EVERY TIME.

Between following @Morteia and @funcom_tsw accounts on Twitter, I know I can actually count on staying up-to-date with TSW happenings. In particular, I have also been impressed by Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist’s presence on Twitter, forums and game sites, interacting with players and answering their questions. Thus far, he has responded to pretty much every one of mine. As a player and a fan of his work, I won’t deny that felt pretty damn amazing. To see such a celebrated designer and someone so integral to the game’s development get so involved is very rare indeed and I gotta say much appreciated.

That’s not all. After watching this hilarious webcast from yesterday, I also have to give a special nod to the livestreams hosted by TSW devs about once every other week. With the hosts drinking beer and swearing up a storm (though given that PvP was involved, I can understand completely), the recording is most decidedly NSFW, but still I have to say its genuine and unscripted nature is what I love best about it and why I will always make the effort to tune in each time.

I know not everything can be revealed due to spoilers and I certainly don’t begrudge a company’s need to keep certain information hush-hush during development. And yet, I can’t help but feel that the kind of candidness I saw in yesterday’s livestream is a breath of fresh air at a time when it’s way more common to hear the dreaded words “We can’t talk about that right now” come repeatedly out of a developer’s mouth. Open and honest communication and Q&As like that give me high hopes for the future of TSW.

As well, aside from showing everyone that he is one cruel tease, Ragnar’s random revelations (yay for alliteration) such as Peter Stormare doing voice work for the game are quite significant. They’re not particularly telling, nor are they true game updates, but those little tidbits do a good job of letting me know that there are some big things up the pipeline to look forward to (can you say Odin and Norse mythology?!)