Fatshark's biggest failure, communication

After the recent drama involving Red Shell being discovered within the game, i had an interesting discussion within the discord server about it. Discussion aside the conclusion made me seriously realize that a lot of the problems right now look like a bigger symptom of extremely poor communication. While the developers have announced a few Streams it’s not very clear or a great way to communicate when looking at other issues.

From what i’ve seen there is a community manager but he very rarely posts and when he/she does it’s quickly hidden. I’m not blaming this on the individual as with game development they probably have 20 jobs to do and the time to finish 1 of those. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact nobody really seems to know what’s going on. Personally i’m not even sure if the developers are aware of issues such as meme staff breaking the game, WH and BW just being outright garbage. They might know and they might be working on such issues which takes time but i have 0 idea if they are. Lack of communication is awful, confusing and leads to so much misinformation and distrust.

Suggestion
If at all possible, promote the use of the Vermintide discord for announcements/events. It’s a useful tool especially when spreading information.

Add developer diaries as announcements on the Steam page. Doing one every 2 weeks can help people understand the direction the game is going and what’s the current focus.

Be more genuinely honest about some issues instead of avoiding discussion of them. Most people are somewhat understanding if you simply explain the time taken to fix a small issue simply isn’t possible to take at the current time. As long as you make it clear what you ARE working on, people tend to be much more forgiving.

Pin developer diary on the Fatshark forums when they come out.

Small things like this which do take a little of time can make a huge difference within your community. Just clarifying what you’re doing and why. Will everyone agree all the time with what you say? No, but the benefits of it vastly out way a few people who will never be satisfied. It also helps identify certain issues that normally are not spotted until much later by user feedback.

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Yep, this is true. We talking about it at the realese when about month or more was no information from devs, later a few post and silence again. And i doesn’t see a trend on change it. Look like big fail with their roadmap and failed promises just push them away from any communications. And now they just speak common phrases which count zero information: “soon”/“long term”/etc. Like Hedge says yesterday about red dupes problem “It’s a long term, we cant say something conrete at the moment”.

I, too, would love to see more frequent official communications about what’s going on with the game, etc. At the same time, let me flag up two things that tend to work against that:

  1. Fatshark isn’t organized like a typical corporation, i.e. with multiple levels of management. It’s more of an assemblage of teams (the sound guys, the animators, the AI guys, etc.) that collaborate/negotiate as they make the game, with some more senior people moderating the process and providing “big vision”. The biggest strength of this approach (in my view) is that creative work is more widely distributed in the company, but one downside is that it’s harder (not impossible!) for them to communicate what exactly is going on at any given moment. There are people coordinating things but not at a minute level. This isn’t gospel – just my thoughts based on hanging out at HQ with them for a few days back in January. I think one compromise would be to have a different team contribute a dev blog every week or so. That way the following disclaimer could always be present: “just because we’re not working on your #1 priority thing at this precise moment doesn’t mean FS is ignoring it!”

  2. Industry-wide, there is a tendency for game devs to be reluctant to be candid with customers/players. That’s not because they’re all naturally reticent people, but because gamer culture has a rough, ugly side to it that can make almost anything a developer shares feel like a waste of effort. E.g. if you announce that you’re working on a feature and put a conservative timeline on it, you’ll have people screaming at you that they’d be able to do it in 1/10 the time and that the devs are incompetent. If you put an ambitious timeline on it, you’ll be called incompetent when you miss it. Basically every time you open your mouth you lose time and energy to dealing with rage. It’s not fair that people that would respond maturely to candid communications get “punished” by less communication from devs because of haters. But it is definitely a thing. Here are two recent “gaming insider” pieces along these lines.

In sum, communications is a minefield. Being defensive in public is a terrible look and so the pressure is always there to just keep your mouth shut instead of inviting criticism and toxic rage by being forthcoming. People will say “they should just toughen up” but it’s not merely about bruised egos/hurt feelings. The same toxic, unreasonable rage shows up in reviews, forums, streams, etc. which is bad for their bottom line as well. Throwing fuel on that fire can be objectively worse than merely being seen as “incommunicative”.

I think Fatshark are generally pretty good at not getting into fights with critics, admitting when they’ve truly messed up (as with the early power scaling bug), and keeping a positive attitude. But it’s not easy.

In passing, I’d say the “dev posts” link is currently the best place to assess what’s on FS’s radar. Giving that some more visibility might help people feel like FS is paying attention to their issues.

Lastly, I do think it’s on us, members of the gaming community, to push back against toxicity. Being angry is fine, being disappointed is fine, writing negative reviews is fine, but stuff like “whichever dev did this should be shot in the head”, “this game is 100% broken”, etc. isn’t constructive. People need to keep their ish together, basically, if we want two-way communication to flow smoothly.

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This is why I made this:

Another issue with them opening up to any discussion, is that they’re immediately jumped on by people being negative and trying to pick holes in anything they say.

I should add that they’ve said on numerous occasions that they pay attention to feedback, and changes in patches have always reflected that.

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You have a point here, but if you love games, make games and etc you must be prepared to commucations with customers and users(like in another sphere when you must contact with people). And in every gaming community will be exist haters/toxic people/fanboys and etc. You can choose the line in which you will be construct your communications(ban toxic, try to be soft in argues and so on), but like every choice this have a bad choices too. Like speak in common phrases without some concrete information. “We take a look”/“soon”/etc…people already fed up with this.

Why Fatshark can’t do like this:

Developers of this game about 3 years in alpha, but they provide information like gods with simple tool. And people even can vote for next feature which will be implemented. This devs not even close for money(and team size btw) that Fathark recieve from VT2 sales, but they in 1000 times better in communications and relationships than Fatshatks.

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That makes sense, and it’s true. And you have to admit that Fatshark do communicate. The OP was hoping for more communication, though. My post is about the fact that more communication has both pros and cons for developers.

I don’t think the reason why most devs don’t communicate like these guys isn’t sheer laziness or lack of interest or similar, though. I think there are good reasons, and those insider articles point to some of them.

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I myself work in the PR area of the games industry to a degree and yes, PR is an extremely difficult job. One wrong word can put everything in a whole new context when people are looking for reasons to be angry. That said, that’s why specific people get paid to do so. Things need to be checked before posted and just with time comes experience and you learn to notice things you didn’t used to.

It’s also difficult because there is a lot you genuinely can’t say. Be it legal reasons or you just don’t want people to make it seem like to made promises that you really didn’t. Once again though with careful wording you can avoid this when you explain focuses and what time is being spent on ect. People start to develop a more realistic understanding of the time developers have in which to achieve certain goals. Make it clear not every goal can be done instantly.

A specific structure/format to what you update people with can be useful. Hell, just showing AWARENESS of certain issues can calm a lot of people down. Sometimes you have to say “We’re aware of an issue but currently it’s a low priority due to X.” People can be surprisingly understanding when you do so… well most people.

Yep, but people who can think understand this. I don’t think that it’s not clear for a lot of people. But anyway you right in pros and cons.

It’s only thougths and we don’t know actual reasons of this. In my thoughts it’s caused in lack of organisation in first place, in second fail with their promises and roadmap. But anyway, this state of affairs is one of the worst which can be.
But really, around a lot of good examples of communocations with your users. They have money, so i don’t think that it’s problem to hire a good specialist if you really care about your product and about you child(it’s about game, because i working in gamdev and know what enthusiastic people work in this sphere). But not all compsnies really care and i much often thinking that FS kind of it.

Honestly Fatshark’s biggest communication problem isn’t the lack of it, it’s how awful it is when they do do it. Their dev streams are meaningless and unwatchable, and half the time they DO say anything, it ends up being false, one way or another. I’ve personally gone past caring about what they say and honestly think they’re better off just battening the hatches, because every time someone opens their mouth, things just, keep, getting, worse.

No communication will be bad, and frustrating, but at least people would mainly just blame that. This hodgepodge not only keeps the frustration around, but it also makes it look as if Fatshark is mainly staffed with highly trained monkeys.

And I say all that as someone who’d be using much harsher words if not for this forum’s babyrage filter.

I understand. Work with people can be one of the most ungrateful, but it’s still your job. And your doing it or just go away(like any another job). Gamedev and games are complecated things which include complex of interactions. Quality of product starts from your technical and design documentation and how you write it and ends on how you communicate with your users. Users can take a look only on technical game quality and quality of communications. They didn’t see what happens inside until devs show it in any form. And this is really simple step to make a good relationships between devs and users.

@Fatshark_Hedge, first of all i really respect your job and what you doing. But can you answer on a few questions?

  1. Are you one CM on whole team?
  2. Can you says what kind of problems you face with providing information to us?(if it’s not secret information)
  3. Will your team make some steps to make a communication between us better?

And i apologize to all for my poor english.

Better question is to ask WHAT steps are being taken to improve communication if any. I’d also suggest maybe a place where you can ask questions before a stream goes live. They can answer those questions in more detail once the stream starts with better prepared answers.

This questions are similar in my mind, because real answer for us will be “we do something”/“we don’t”.

It’s quite simple ye, just make a topic on their forum, steam’s forum and filter troll questions and etc.

This happened before. They had a thread for questions before the infamous socks giveaway stream.

IIRC literally all of the upvoted questions were ignored and instead they answered the lowest hanging fruit possible while spending more than half the stream reading the patch notes of 1.0.6. (which came out a week ago then) and giving away socks. That was the stream that broke the camel’s back for me, I’ve stopped giving Fatshark any credit after this.

So this ain’t gonna help.

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This is sad.

If that is the case they need to really work on their ability to communicate. It’s so much better to say what people don’t want to hear from YOUR mouth than the alternative. The alternative being the community finding out and making something explode out of control with misinformation. Red Shell being a prime example.

I think they’re in a bit of a tough spot right now as realistically they’re working on getting the console launch out, but that means absolutely nothing to PC players. So rather then upset a bunch of people by telling them they aren’t really the priority they just use a stock phrase like “Soon™”.

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But we’re not dumb or blind. We see that we paid to be beta testers and are now being ignored while they work on duping more people into buying what’s still an unfinished game :frowning:

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Well, there’s like twenty of us who see it and post here bringing it up lol, go to the subreddit and the opinion is wildly different

Right but that doesn’t factor in the non-vocal but equally pissed off consumers or the throng of Steam users who’ve changed their reviews to negative. I see your point but the subreddit is a lil… special.

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I think bears repeating.

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Why not join the Fatshark Discord https://discord.gg/K6gyMpu