isn’t the only game at Trion Worlds
that’s shuffling around its community team these days. RIFT
announced last Friday that it brought on board Jennifer “Yaviey” Bridges
to be the new community manager for the fantasy MMO.
Bridges said she has worked on several MMO community teams to date including EverQuest II, WildStar, and Lineage II and was a RIFT player back in the early days of the title.
“If you couldn’t already guess, MMORPGs are my jam,” Bridges wrote. “They’re my absolute favorite type of game for a variety of reasons. I love the communities in them, I love that you can constantly strive to be better at something, and questing in general always feels so epic.”
This move doesn’t mean that Linda “Brasse” Carlson is out as a RIFT community manager. Bridges confirmed that Carlson will continue to manage the team while doing “cool creative stuff” in the meantime.
There’s a new sheriff on ArcheAge’s forums, and his fearsome name is Muzzy.
Trion Worlds announced Joe Brogno, otherwise known as “Muzzy” to the studio’s community, was being transferred over from Atlas Reactor to ArcheAge as the fantasy MMO’s newest CM. Brogno won’t be replacing Seraphina Brennan, as she will remain as the game’s senior community manager.
The team revealed the shift in personnel on a Twitch livestream, which wasn’t exactly received with open arms by the community. On the forums, players expressed indignation over the new CM’s alleged ignorance about the basic concepts of the game and Trion’s decision to ignore pressing issues in favor of promoting some of its cash shop items. You can watch the stream after the break and decide for yourself.
Community management has got to be one of the most stressful jobs in the industry. After all, there’s nothing like throwing yourself to the lions, day after day, and being the front-line buffer for their discontent and slavering fangs. So I do admire those crazy people who take up CM jobs for a living. More so when a CM goes above and beyond moderating the fans to being a strong communicator.
Today I want us to focus on those studios and CMs that somehow are above the grade of other MMOs when it comes to communication. Do you see devs and CMs in a particular game constantly engaging the community, being open about studio decisions, and keeping everyone informed? If that happens in an MMO you aren’t playing, doesn’t that cheese you off?
So which MMO studio is the best at communication with its players?
What do you get when you remove an MMO community manager from that position and give him free license to talk what really goes on behind the scenes without the PR gloss? You end up with someone like Tonka, a former TERA community rep and “Event Specialist” who has uploaded a rant video on how studios devalue customers and community relations. Also, he targets marketing as a “necessary evil.”
“Companies frequently and obviously apply community management as an afterthought to their total business plan,” said Tonka. “When you’re creating a product, you also have to consider the customer. This is really not an unusual thought in business, but I feel like it gets lost in the games industry all the time and especially in MMOs.”
You can watch Tonka’s entire 11-minute rant below.
What is it like to be the community manager of an MMO that was infamously called the worst PlayStation 4 game ever? That’s the question of the day for Emma S., the community manager of Wander.
Emma shares how she got involved with the Wander project as a volunteer and worked her way up to CM and social media guru. She describes jumping into the role at launch “beyond stressful” and “insane,” feelings complicated by a massively buggy and unstable release.
“Never underestimate the tremendous wrath of an immeasurable horde of irate gamers,” she recalls. “Within half an hour of launch, Facebook and Twitter had exploded with incredibly nasty comments. Though they were horrible, they were also honest. I hit the ground running. I read and answered every single post and comment as it came though. My stomach sank further with each passing notification. I felt was like I was being punched from the inside with every new comment.”
Blizzard’s long-time community manager, Bashiok (known in the earlier days as Drysc), is leaving the studio after more than a decade of wrangling the World of Warcraft forums. Bashiok, who has been a constant figure in the WoW community since October 2003, has announced that he’s leaving to pursue a new opportunity. In a short-but-sweet post on the official forums, he notes that his time with the studio and the community had “an incredible and positive impact” on who he is, and he signs off by wishing players the best: “I’m looking forward to what’s next, and wishing you a life of joy, insatiable curiosity, and happy gaming.”
There’s a new name on the community team for ArcheAge this week. Evan “Scapes” Berman has posted his farewell letter on the game’s official forums, announcing his departure from the game. Taking over for him is Seraphina Brennan, known for handling community relations on Infinite Crisis and various writing duties for some group of weirdos on a site called Massively back in days of yore.
So we’re kind of happy to see it.
Scapes will continue to be taking part in the game’s weekly livestream while Trion’s Austin studio prepares to host livestream events locally, and he stresses that he will still be playing the game as before. “I am joining FireCait on a new, as-of-yet-unannounced project,” he wrote. “You may have seen our teaser for it last week: devilinsideyou.com.” So while it’s sad to say farewell to a community manager who’s been part of the community for a while, he’s leaving for better things, and someone excellent is stepping in to fill his shoes.
Tweeting or posting the wrong thing in the wrong tone can have serious consequences for a game studio, which is something that Daybreak Senior Community Relations Manager Tony Jones knows all too well.
In a talk at GDC this week, Jones spoke on how the CM team advises and guides the developers in what and how they communicate to the fanbase. He said that this training is crucial: “It’s not that you try to restrict what they’re saying, it’s that you try and slow them down and think about what they’re saying before they say it. Everyone’s tone should be the same […] You want to kind of make that middle ground and make them appear as a cohesive team.”