However, in my evening shower after reading some Dungeons and Dragons Online forum posts, I decided it was time to talk about the customer.
Customers are self-serving, conniving, self-righteous, and downright capitalist pig-dogs.
There, I said it. Even those of you who will buy my book, as my customers, this is who you are. Now before you blacklist me for calling you dirty names, let me explain. The fact of the matter is what I just said doesn't actually make anyone a bad person... In fact, it just makes you normal.
Sane people rarely do things for absolutely no reason. Behind every action there is a motive and in the majority of actions those motives are self-serving. When someone buys my book (exception being Mark Fassett from Laughing Dragon) they do it because they believe that the value they will get out of it exceeds the price of the book. Mark, for the record, is apparently buying it so he can see how Cafe Press does printing... But that is also self-serving for a different reason.
When the first comments on the book come in the odds are they are going to be requests for more information on X, Y, and/or Z. Once again, this is a self-serving request. It isn't bad, the odds are if one person wants more information on X, so does half the people who purchased it.
This is all clear in something simple, like a how-to book. It becomes less clear in games, and worse in online games.
We'll take the extreme example, an MMO- where 95% of all the suggestions about the game are entirely just to rebalance the game in your favor. How do you weed out the good and bad suggestions to move forward, knowing full well you've created a game far too large to test every possible suggestion?
Well, sadly, you can't... And MMOs always suffer for it. People love to complain and complain they will; it creates a rather depressing scene and I do not envy the community managers of our MMO world.
In games it gets a little tricky and the WHOLE POINT of this crazy post is this:
Expect your players to do what serves them best.... And capitalize on it.
I am about to do a press release for Caravel Games on the massive user created content that has been done. 8,000+ levels. To achieve that, they have an active and vibrant community full of selfless people, right? BAH. They have an active and vibrant community, yes, but the act of creating levels wasn't done out of the kindness of the heart of the creator. It was done to achieve some self-actualizing goal. Caravel Games has made a game that can harness that power and put it to work for them, not only making them direct profit (See the Smite Master Selection) but also in aiding in 'word of mouth' and other sales channels.
What are the goals of these people? Could be many things. Could be fame and notoriety for instance.
It is really the capitalist way. Do what is best for you and you will do what is best for the whole. It is a false philosophy (those who have taken a few economics courses know that it is a good start but doesn't quite get the job done). The trick really is to design a game where what is BEST for the consumer is truly best for you. Easier said than done, but be on the lookout for designing a game where what is BEST for the consumer is NOT best for you.
Most often: Requests for a longer demo, requests for new features, requests for a lower price...
I guess the point is, when dealing with the customer ask yourself "What's in it for them?" There's always an answer and it can either be good for your business or bad for it, but you MUST always ask that question- not just assume that everyone is as nice as my readers are ;-)
And god help you should you ever make an MMO, where everyone has their own agenda and the 'honest' people out there will never get through the noise of the dishonest.... And don't you dare nerf my Heavy Repeating Crossbow... at least not before you fix that damn bug with melee weapons (DDO players will get that).