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How the Community Can Help Make Better Sports Games (OS Chat)

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How the Community Can Help Make Better Sports Games (OS Chat)

It is time once again for another OS Chat, today Editor Chris Sanner sits down with OS Community Manager Millennium to talk about the article we penned last week on how we can be better at criticizing sports games.

We’ll chat about some of the responses to that article and dive into some other topics, all while giving some tips on how we can step our games up.

Let’s get this party started!

Chris Sanner: Last week we published an article that got a lot of feedback both on social media and here on OS entitled, “When it Comes To Criticizing Sports Games, We Can Do Better as a Community”. Today myself and Millennium (Community Manager around these parts) are sitting down for a chat here on OS to talk about that article and to give some more insight on what we think and to respond to some of the comments. Read through our discussion and then take it from there!

So to start this discussion off, Millennium…we had one user (Dazraz) ask how ambitious people should be when making suggestions to developers. Should we as a community be shooting for the moon on suggestions or keeping things more practical and grounded?

Millennium: Both. There is no feedback that isn’t valuable. Small things could be something missed and large things could be ideas no one has thought of. Timing in when you do either is key – remember that most games have their feature sets locked in months before release. But while timing is a factor I believe it is less so than being clear, concise and constructive with any feedback you are giving.

Chris Sanner: I agree. My convos with guys who make the games (and you can vouch for this)…they get a lot of big ideas from the community that are kind of a pie in the sky list they’d like to tackle. And they try to do something from that each year pretty consistently. I mean you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly think devs like both and like users who dream big but others who are focused on fixing the things needing fixed here and now.

Ok on another note, unlucky13 chimed in on the story and asked a question I’m going to paraphrase because I’ve heard this one a few times, “What do we do when we don’t get a response even though we’re approaching a dev pretty politely, especially when it comes to things like features I really love being removed?”

I would THINK the answer isn’t to wish they die if any of the above happens…but you can correct me if I’m wrong on that one?

Millennium: The devs see a lot of the feedback given but can’t comment directly back in most issues. If you don’t feel like you have been heard it is important to seek out a community leader for the game you are giving feedback on. Many times these leaders are posting as a “middle man” for passing information between a development team and the gaming community.

Chris Sanner: Would you say that devs see most everything that comes their way, good/bad/ugly?

Millennium: I would say devs see a good bit of what comes the way with the advancements in social media. Even if the devs don’t/can’t say anything back most if the ideas posted get back to the in one way or another. I can not stress enough that the manner in which you give feedback has a direct effect on your chances of it being seen. If you are continuously constructive than you amplify your online voice immensely. Conversely if you are destructive at every chance you get you run the risk of losing the ability to be listened to by those that need to hear you the most.

Chris Sanner: Honestly that’s the thing I’ve tended to gather from devs. If you want to be seen and want your suggestions to be heard you have to be consistent and high quality. One of the 2K guys told me you have to “stand above the pack”. I think that’s totally true.

For instance if you truly want a game to be better, you can’t just sit around tell devs to go ‘kill themselves’ or any number of incredibly stupid remarks when a feature isn’t what you thought. I’d argue those people aren’t really looking to make games better, but in the event one is — you are literally ruining your credibility to affect change. At best you’ll be muted/ignored, at worst blocked. Then what? What’s the point of that?

Here on OS its the same thing. If you come on here and act like a moron you get banned, your voice is silenced and ability to affect change is diminished. Sure it takes a lot of work to stand out but if you are truly passionate about having a better game that’s what it’s going to take. What do you think Mill? How do people stand out?

Millennium: The best way to stand out is consistency and focused passion. Give feedback as much as you can. Be respectful of everyone – devs, fans and everyone in between to receive respect in return. Understand that not everything can be fixed and allow for some flexibility in your expectations. It can hold developers accountable without requiring every single but to be immediately fixed. In short – Be human.

Chris Sanner: What would you personally say to gamers who complain that this is effectively deputizing themselves as a gaming company’s QC department? Any concerns there for you or do you think this is a natural part of being a passionate fan?

Millennium: I’d say this: Thousands of gamers can see in one day more than a QA team can see in an entire cycle due to manpower alone. The truth of the matter is that most won’t give feedback and will either play through the bugs without noticing or complain about them without offering their experiences. Those that break from these two groups are extremely valuable – they look to help make sports games better and the reward for their help is…better sports games. It really is as simple as that. If you want games be be better you can wait until the game evolves on its own or you can help push it further. It’s not a requirement for anyone, but it can be an extremely rewarding feeling to see a bug you reported fixed or a feature you suggested implemented. Is it your job? No. But it can very easily become your passion.

Chris Sanner: That complaint always seemed strange to me as well. Mainly because people say that but obviously care about how good their sports game is.

So we talked about some of the objections people might have, what is the one big thing you think gamers should be looking to do to be a better part of the community? What would you recommend people do more of? On the flipside, what’s the one thing you think that gamers should do less of outside of the obvious few things?

Millennium: The one big thing it think all gamers looking for provide better feedback should do is learn how to save video quickly while playing a game where it be online or offline. You don’t need to go into each games provided replay mode. All you need in most cases is live gameplay clips showing what you are giving feedback on.

A less obvious item to do less is trying to grind through issues. Sometimes your best friend can be to sit the game down for an hour and regain your composure. You simply can not give clear feedback if you are angry and it often has an effect on your in game play.

Final Thoughts

So what do you think? How do you think we can step our games up as a community and be more helpful towards the end goal of better sports games? What ideas do you have to make the community more positive and helpful than negative and hurtful?

Add your own thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. First and foremost, I really love this website and what you guys been doing and trying to do for sports games. I don’t know exactly how we should go about getting this right across all or most games, but from order to real life sports in relation to sports gaming.
    1)Year to year saves
    2)Gameplay features/options
    3)Presentation
    My first argument is for year to year saves in franchise/dynasty specifically. Why? Because each year the owner/GM isn't forced to restart their team/roster. Of course players move and retire, I am not arguing that point but what I am arguing is this. Think of EA/2K/Sony or any game company as the league, NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL and us gamers as the owners of each team, alright. Remember when a few years ago when the league vetoed the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers, thus stopping progression for both franchises. Speaking of Chris Paul what if the league said no, stay as a Clipper nothing you can do about it, again. Every year that we can’t continue or franchises/dynasties to the new game that is essentially what the gaming companies do to us. No, you are not going to continue what you are doing, you must go by what we say/allow. Imagine how ridiculous it would be if the NBA this year said no to all trades and free agent moving, everybody stays put, that is what these companies are effectively doing to us a sports gamer by not allowing year to year saves.
    I know the biggest question might be, what about the new rookies and contracts? Of course the new game will have those transactions before shipping and you could if you want to start with the new current rosters. For those that would like to continue their franchises you could have the rookies in a pre made draft class file ala NBA2K and load them whenever you like in your franchise just like now. Or have all the new rookie free agents in your newly saved over franchise. Worst case scenario, no new rookies in your newly saved over franchise just continue where you left off, and you only benefit from the new gameplay features/badges or whatever is new in the game. I would be totally cool with that as well.
    I know from the corporation side this is a waste of time, what about maximizing profits? Well if you are wanting guarantee sales have a pre-order bonus that allows your franchise/dynasties to be carried over to the new game. And if you absolutely must put a price tag on it, do not exceed $5. I think a guarantee of my $60 is good enough for the next game.
    The last point for year to year saves, we can’t determine how fast all of us players finish a season based on every factor you can think of kids, wife, job etc.. Maybe some people play along side the season and that’s all. Maybe others play as fast they can, while others maybe don’t have nearly as much time and play whenever they get the chance. Point being, don’t rush us on how fast we get to enjoy our product before the next one comes out and forces you to restart everything you accomplished. Every company let alone video games wants our dollars and time, make it worthwhile so I can keep being loyal to your product while you have my attention now.
    Next you could argue for any side of which aspect of gameplay to focus on. I think in this department we are pretty consistently getting upgrades and new badges etc… Anything from creating our own plays, coaches, coaching staff/carousel would be a warm welcome. Maybe historic stats either from just us or the league. On gameplay specifically, EA is moving in the right direction proposing simulation and competitive mode but each and every single one of us plays differently. No matter how many ‘modes’ expand into the future, never take out sliders, here at OS we have excellent slider gurus in the forums that can tend to our specific play styles.
    (Turns to the community specifically)
    Anyways the main point, we can dig around the website for any feature/presentation/options/customization thought on all of these games they just want us to form it like this. Its how we request features and improvements take this as an example. Think about what you would like to be fixed or added, really think why you want it to be added and how it possibly can be implemented and why it should be prioritized. How it could benefit the corporation if applicable. Step by step, verses ‘Man, this sucks, make it better.’ Or ‘Wow this is ridiculous, unplayable.’ Again take my gripe for example I would probably get no response for just posting, “I want year to year saves, I’m tired of restarting my dynasties” It just sounds like complaining.
    We all have our own reasoning to why or what would make the games great. This isn’t twitter, take your time write a couple of paragraphs. Take the time to thoughtfully write it out and they will, hopefully, get it in/fixed/patched soon. How well do you respond to someone complaining? How well would you respond to someone trying to persuade you? That’s the difference here.
    Maybe year to year saves might happen, in 2K. If it doesn’t I’ll be a little upset yeah but, post about it again in the same manner or just bring up that old post or this post next year, soon after release.
    (To the original post)
    I think another thing that will help, a yearly master poll if you will. Categorize every aspect Replay ability, gameplay, presentation, equipment etc… and within those categories rank every possibility of improvement 1 (meaning most important) through to whatever number in said category, and have it dynamically update with each average at each rank. Another thing I think is a little lost is we don’t support each other like we should. Some people just totally disregard other people’s post/opinions if it doesn’t interest/concern them which is fine but having a master poll where we are forced to rank all features and opinions would alleviate that, and help developers too. And at the same time if you don’t have the time to write a detailed post, this will help, just participate in that yearly poll. These are games we all play and have opinions on let everyone be heard through that.
    I think that exclusive licensing deals should come to an end, so it can allow developers to compete against other. Look at EA Sports, there is no need for them to put out a great madden game, because they dont have to worry about a rival developer company making a better game.
    One thing that I think needs to be done is we need to get back to civil/mature discussion that at one time separated OS from other forums/sites. We used to have developer interaction and discuss the games, but that seems to be a thing of the past. Now it seems that anytime a developer is on the forums they are bombarded with complaints and even worse, insults. And even when they aren't on the forums you still see the immature, backhanded insults being lobbed the devs way and it seems nowadays little is done to stop this behavior. 
    So step one is to make OS what it once was, a place for civil/mature discussion about videos games. Until that happens, nothing else will change and OS will not be able to provide the feedback the devs are seeking. 

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