How to get through to people who just don't get it

  • This is sort of a part two to the 'How to Respond to Skeptics' post I made over a year ago.  I just posted it on mmorpg.com in response to, let's just say a couple of posters not playing well with each other.  One was attacking the Pantheon community, saying that they were defensive, intolerant, talked down to others, exclusionary, etc.  Obviously I don't agree, although sometimes we do get too defensive and defending Pantheon actually backfires and turns someone off.  That's why I feel the issue remains important to address.  There's a lot of overlap beetween this post and the year+ old one, but because it's so key I decided to post anyway.

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    You know, having been deeply involved with interacting and even building EQ and VG's communities as well as some other games, I just can't agree with you totally here. Yes, there are some over-zealous fans who attack or get defensive. I've posted several times in several places as to why we need to avoid this and spread the word about the game in a positive and respectful way -- and I will ask all of you reading this to please do that.


    But to judge the greater community based on a few over-zealous and rude persons I think is not a valid extrapolation. On the contrary, I think overall our community has been fantastic, positive, happy to answer questions from those who know less about the game, etc. In fact, I'm quite proud of our community. Every community is going to have some bad apples, or even people who are true fans and mean well, but just don't come across that way in their word choice or expression. But I know that can be hard when you are really passionate about something -- heck, we deal with it internally where someone might get a little to wound up and say something to the team that could have been said better and more productively. But then, because of the amazing respect we have for each other and this fantastic team culture we've built and are committed to protecting, these minor altercations are quickly fixed and addressed and we all move forward together.


    I see the analogy of the dev team and the community as pretty valid. In both you have very passionate, talented, outspoken, and tenacious people. You have people who care so deeply about Pantheon that at times they can be defensive when something is said or implied. It's actually something we work on all of the time -- communication -- especially because many in the team are remote (it is easier to avoid some of this stuff if you're in the same office together, mon-fri).


    You also have the same types of personalities in the community, especially those in the community that speak up and speak out. They too can get too defensive, or quick to judge, or say something that might be accurate but could have been said in a much less confrontational or negative way.


    But you know what? If this wasn't happening, if there wasn't both a dev team and an awesome community so amazingly passionate and excited about Pantheon, that would actually indicate a real problem. I'd much rather people quibble with each other a bit than to be apathetic and not care what is being said or implied or wanted. It's ultimately a sign of how healthy our community is and how well the outside looking in will translate into alpha and beta testers, and then the community post-launch.


    So bottom line: yes, I humbly appeal to everyone, fan and skeptic or wherever you fit in, to be respectful, to realize that these other people posting and talking about the game also feel passionately, even feel a sense of ownership. If you disagree on something, and you will, try first to make sure you understand what the person really meant (very easy to miss that in a text post). Then even if you still disagree with what they are truly saying, remember who they are and that they, like you, deserve respect. "A kind answer turns away wrath".


    Now of course there will be haters and trolls and the like, and as more and more people become aware of Pantheon, the number of people like that will go up. It's just the way it is. In these cases if you cannot engage with them respectfully (and I mean both ways -- communication is a 2-way street), then just walk away. Stop participating in the thread. Don't try to 'fix' somebody who doesn't want to be. Don't try to educate someone who simply isn't willing to put the effort in to learn about the game. As they say, "don't feed the trolls". And then just move forward, engaging with those who truly do want a dialog, or to express something important to them, an aspect of the game, a feature they are concerned about, some game mechanics that haven't yet been explained in detail, and the concern that can naturally arise.


    Obviously these are not our official forums, we don't control them or really have any influence. So, to some degree similar to how it will be in the future in-game, the community has to police themselves to a reasonable point. I remain very optimistic about our growing community and completely convinced we can work through the vast majority of altercations.

    Also, as awareness grows, so also will those drawn to Pantheon be less sophisticated... what I mean by that is less aware of the game, of MMOs it draws from in the past... they may be younger.... they may be used to different gameplay, pacing, style. Yes, they may even feel entitled and think that the game should be made exactly how they would like. And no, not all of them will end up liking the game. But I absolutely believe a bunch of them will -- the gamespace has grown more than 10 fold vs the number of online gamers in 1999 (when EQ launched). That means more than the group is larger -- it means more varieties of people with differing tastes and experiences will enter this community. Please realize that this happening is essential to the success of the game. It might be tempting to just write-off or ignore or marginalize this incoming group of people (mostly younger folks, millennials). But we can't. We need to engage them, take the time to explain why you are excited about Pantheon, what makes it tick, what it's bringing back that has been missing so long from MMOs, and also the exciting new game mechanics and features that we're building up and upon the foundational MMO experience we already mostly have in place. Let them know why they are seeing what they are seeing in these twitch streams. Take the time to politely point out what makes a game like Pantheon so unique (nowadays) and fun in ways that most current MMOs aren't. There really isn't a game like Pantheon in development right now of which I'm aware. I like that. I like the idea of filling in this gap and providing a long missed experience for a large group of old school gamers who have literally felt orphaned by the less social, less community focused, less cooperative and flat-out easier MMOs of late.


    But our target audience is bigger than that group. We are casting a broader net, so to speak. We are absolutely convinced that a large group of younger players will end up loving the game, assuming we can reach them, show them something that seems fun and interesting, provide answers to their questions no matter how simple or sophisticated. These people love Dark Souls, Call of Duty, the better MOBAs, the survival games -- they crave both challenge and risk and reward, but they also crave experiencing these things together with other real people. There's just something that's part of human nature where if you experience something exciting, dangerous, tension-filled, etc. and you experience that with other actual people, those events have a greater impact and create much deeper and longer lasting memories. So our challenge (the dev team and the community's) is to figure out how to reach these groups and explain to them what they're looking at, why things work the way they work, and how much FUN these games can be.


    And just so you don't think I'm too crazy, no, I don't think the vast majority of these audiences and demographics will all be magically drawn to the game. But, as I've posted before, we're not making a game that is all things to all people. If we can reach a reasonable percentage of those who already do love Pantheon AND those who would once given a chance to experience it, then we will have success, the game will grow, expansions with new content and crazy new features will be released, and we'll have another game on our hands that's still running even 17 years after launch. 15 million online gamers (a conservative number, btw)? 10% is still 1.5M. 1% is 150,000 gamers. EQ was very successful and profitable at 150,000 gamers, peaking at 550k. Small numbers yes when compared later to WoW, but plenty large enough to employ a dedicated dev team, live teams, expansion teams, support and GM/CS teams, etc. etc.  Especially a company like Visionary Realms, where we run lean and mean.  We don't have huge overheads, a publisher who takes a huge cut, needless bureaucracy, 9-5ers, people who won't wear multiple hats and do whatever it takes.  


    And while I'm convinced we will be much closer to 10% than 1%, probably even higher, the point is that while we don't need a massive ton of people to achieve success, we do need to make a large number of people aware and familiar with the game. They need to be aware and have at least a general understanding before they can determine if the game looks interesting enough to try. That's where you guys come in, the existing community -- welcome these people in, take the time to help them understand, tell them some great experiences you and your guildmates had years ago and why you still talk about that shared experience today, how it truly impacted you. How many of your friends you still hang out with are people you met online and in-game years and years ago because the game was social and encouraged making true friends that you could count on, in and outside of the game. Don't get mired down into debate over what are usually minor issues, or mechanics and features we purposely haven't released the details on yet. Don't look down on the younger folk, even if they are only used to Destiny-like hopping around and firing as fast as you can but not really being part of true teamwork and tactics. Heck, even if they come across entitled. Or skeptical. Or just generally negative. React respectfully and explain and it may be surprising to you how positive the reaction will be.

    We, you and I, can still get through to many/most of these types. And yes, this community, while not perfect, is already a great community and have both spread the word, but also explained and introduced the game, and made people feel welcome. The OPs are right in that we shouldn't be mocking or insulting. But built upon exclusion? A fascist regime? Hyperbole at best, but hey, let it slide and put your PatheON back on!! Upward and onward!


    -Brad


    ps. one great place to support the game and reach people unfamiliar with Pantheon are in the comments in YouTube under the two streams we recently did and are posted on our channel (as well as Cohh's). You'll find all sorts of comments and questions that clearly are coming from people curious enough about Pantheon to watch the video and then take the time to post, yet sufficiently unfamiliar with the game such that they ask some really peculiar questions. Those people there are perfect to reach out to.... *something* brought them to the stream, then *something* brought them to watch part or all of it, and then *something* interested them enough to post.. positively, negatively, skeptically... it doesn't really matter. Unless it's a completely obvious troll, jump on in and help them understand. Sure, I know that ultimately this is our job -- Kilsin and company are out there responding as much as possible to comments, to posts on threads, supporting message boards outside of our company as well as supporting our own forums, our VIP pledgers, etc. And they're doing a great job. But I just wanted to also point out that when someone from the community as opposed to a developer posts, many people will take that more seriously. They may not trust or have some skepticism regarding what a Visionary Realms employee says, who is paid to work on and promote the game. Understandable, I get it. But as Cohh has pointed out in these recent streams, we're not paying him a penny -- he's supporting us tremendously because of how much he wants to play Pantheon. Well, the same goes for you -- if you post something it can have more impact than if we do. Thanks for listening.

    /verbose OFF :)

7 comments
  • ghost7
    ghost7 I started playing Everquest when I was in grade school. It's definitely possible for the younger generations to appreciate and enjoy a game like Pantheon! Spread the word far and wide. Onward!
  • Raydor
    Raydor The most telling thing about the draw for this game can be seen in the YouTube comments. Have you ever seen a comment thread so curious, without so much vitriol? Usually YouTube comments are a cesspool. The Cohh Pantheon comments are a unicorn.
  • Wolftar
    Wolftar It is always a good idea while reading threads and comments and give them the benefit of the doubt. Someone seemingly offensive might've meant their words in a different light entirely but didn't come to think of how it might look like, some things just t...  more
    May 12
  • Vaeruun
    Vaeruun When I get angry I just think of Morgan Freeman.
    May 17