Developers being disconnected from gamer audience

I’m writing for you Admins and hopefully this will reach developer team as well (I’m not too optimistic though to be honest about the later)…

In the light of Blizzcon and Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal introduction, I would like to highlight this to Admins and Gearbox team as well.

I’ve spent more than 20 years now as a gamer -as many many gamers out there-, I’m feeling more and more disconnected from the developers and new game releases.

New game that is kind of the same as the earlier game(s).
To make the topic short and not start a big rant: the main problem with almost all game releases:

1.) They give nothing new to the player experience, only looks better and sounds better. Most of the time the “new games” are just a rehash of an earlier one with a handful of extra “features”.
2.) The extra “features” mostly missing features from earlier game(s), or something that the gamer community requested as an important addition to make the game feel more “complete” or fill a big hole/remove a nuisance from the gameplay.

Communication between development and gamers.
And the main issue is somehow that the devs don’t really hear what people want from the game. The main reason why I started this topic because:
-I already have a feeling the disconnect regarding Borderlands 3 is happening right now
Why do I feel that way you ask?
The simplest reason is the way this forum is handled, and ALL of the game forums -other games, other company game forums and support and communication.
What i mean is this:
1.)Borderlands 3 STILL haven’t got a separate area on the forum
2.)There is one mega-thread for Borderlands whislist/suggestions with thousands(?) of replies. I bet my whole year of salary that no one in the right mind will make a proper feedback list from all of the comments and Dev team will never see all of the suggestions and requests people posted there, just bits and pieces, that some (one or two people form forum admins) will feel fit to show them.
3.)When I tried to restart my good old topic from years ago (it was a small suggestion kind of topic) I was blindly connected to the above topic, taking away the chance of having a conversation on a topic (that is partially BL3 whislist related but mostly was a game design related conversation. Again, someone form forum admin had a feeling they know what I want and acted on this gut feel. Another miscommunication, based on some strict forum policy that states that “no skeletal topics can be restarted”. Very silly policy IMHO but I can live with that.

However I already know that BL3 will be a “better looking” game than BL2, with SOME new features. But not a whole new game with a real open world and complex system-upgrade. Sorry to sound negative but based on the experience of the last 10 years, developers always think they know what we want and as you can see, gamers really start to rage on these mistakes.

So my biggest question here: How can we, gamers be sure that BL3 will be the game WHAT WE WANT?
How can we, gamers be sure that after purchasing the game we won’t have to ask support and forum to add xy feature because this is “buggy, missing the point, etc.” and we are back on the same old topic over and over again?

BL3 will be the 4th game in Borderlands franchise, one of the dearest to my heart as I’m sure many of BL players (hardcore or not) feel the same. I personally don’t want to see a half broken, feature-less but better looking BL2 or BL:TPS addition just for the sake of Gearbox getting some money in the bank.

And yes I already hear the official answer! To us, at Gearbox the number one goal is to make a new Borderlands game that is true to the original games and we listen to gamers and you can be sure that we hear all of your requests…

I hope that Gearbox, unlike Blizzard really really does that.

So my constructive suggestion on a VERY primitive project management steps that I can think of right now, so it won’t take up pages and pages, boring to death everyone :D):
-Start to make a BL3 area for discussions.
-Create an excel sheet with the feature requests, separating the areas of interest (graph, engine, gameplay, characters, etc.)
-During the game development project you can slowly build ALL of these requests into the game

I’m curious what others feel as a gamer regarding new games, Gearbox, Gearbox games and communication, how can we, gamers make this better?

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Sounds like you’ve already built up an expectation of the game.

Manage our expectations? I don’t expect a perfect game upon release, even given what I feel was a pretty perfect execution with BL2. UVHM too hard? Some arcane weapon mechanic fixed or not fixed to our chagrin? Plot hole got someone’s goat? I’m not sure any of the negative feedback about BL2 is something I would consider warranted, so I’m pretty optimistic that BL3 will be fine.

I consider it their franchise to destroy or not (for certain values of destruction, ranging from outsourcing the entire thing as a poorly made mobile game from a sketchy company, to making a single plot inconsistency in an otherwise perfect deployment), and I don’t think it’s our place to direct them in any of this.

In answer to your question, I’d say this, “Do your best Gearbox - you’re doing great so far.”

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Thanks for your thoughts Adabiviak.
I thought about what you wrote here:

Sounds like you’ve already built up an expectation of the game.

Might sounds like I’m negative toward BL games, that is the opposite. I love every piece of it although I wish TPS would be more than it is. I think you’re right about me having negative expectations though.
However the negativity comes from the fact of some of other gearbox games and mostly other dev. and game companies I guess.

When a game company is making games for xx years. And most of the game they make slowly but steadily loosing quality and/or repeating the same game mechanics over and over… Yes I’m feeling old and skeptical. This is not a focused skepticism against Gearbox, more like in general for the PC development really.
Just like for e.g. when skepticism and alienation toward banks you can experience and people say “well okay I’m fine with the bank where I’m at right now but I don’t really trust banks too much”. This builds up slowly but surely.

One of the biggest letdown is also:
Non-finished, beta-state game releases
If you look at games, even on console, most of the big AAA releases got 0 day patch that is like 1-5-whatever GBs of size. We can argue that yes these games are “big” and need a lot of testing. We can also put the question up the opposite way: If we know these AAA titles are big and need lot of testing, why don’t the companies do that in the first place and release a much more stable and bug-less game on release date.

If BL3 will be just a tiny bit more feature rich then earlier BLs I will be happy, don’t get me wrong! What I would like to highlight here is that the time between the development of the separate games. I personally feel like getting old on waiting for BL3 and these 5-6years passes and you kind of getting the “same” experience with a tiny bit of addition on top of it.
And yes I hope I’m wrong and I will say “WOW I DIDNT EXPECT THIS GAME TURN OUT TO HAVE SO MANY FRESH IDEAS!”
But I get back to the topic… This didn’t happen for years and years now.
Well maybe Red Dead Redemption 2 once it will be released on PC. :stuck_out_tongue: That game really looks massive.

I’m really in love with BL and I want to enjoy BL3 for at least 5 years after release, especially it being Open world and just as big as BL2.

Does my expectations are too high? :slight_smile:

I would be concerned if GBX were rushing to meet some artificial yearly or 2-yearly release schedule largely driven by investor expectations. Fortunately, GBX doesn’t have to deal with that side of the business, which (at least to a first approximation) seems to be the main driver for mediocre, unpolished ‘me too’ games rife with microtransactions.

I don’t have RDR2 but some of the others on the forums do, and it’s looking really solid. But there’s an example of a company bucking the trend and focussing on making a great game, and investing the time and effort to do so. Only time will tell how that works out, but the opening weekend sales were solid.

Same goes for the Borderlands franchise - time will tell. GBX obviously know that expectations will be high, and I’m sure they have high expectations themselves.

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Let’s see what your concerns are:

What fact?

Has this been the case with the Borderlands franchise (or Gearbox titles in general)?

Until Gearbox demonstrates some behavior I don’t like, I give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll continue to make good games. There are some other developers that have this high credit rating with me (Monolith, Id, Valve), and others that do not (EA, Bungie, Microsoft).

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I just want to clear up a few things from the admin perspective, and then talk more about my own hopes and expectations for the development of BL3.

Because it hasn’t been officially announced yet. I’ve wanted there to be a BL3 section for a while now, but forum policy hasn’t changed. I suspect that if a BL3 section did appear here before any official announcement, it would be taken as An Official Announcement. That’s not how GBX want things. My guess is that a BL3 section would appear very shortly indeed after any official announcement.

As to your comments about the ‘what we want in BL3’ thread, that is a genuine effort by the admins to make user feedback more easily and directly accessible by the devs, in that they do have a single specific thread of ideas with limited discussion to visit, rather than loads of separate threads scattered about the forum with suggestions embedded within the debates. And yes, I can guarantee that they do read it, however daunting a task that may seem. Us purple moderators absolutely, categorically, do not filter the thread in any way or pass on what we like to the devs (nor do the community managers, as I understand things) as that is not our role here, at all. I assume that the devs do cherry pick items for further discussion amongst the team, as one would expect.

Edit: on reflection, and wracking my brain somewhat, I do think that the Gearbox Community Managers have a role in assimilating the data from that thread, but only (if I’m correct) in the way it’s presented. There are quite a few suggestions that are either very popular or are frequently expressed and I think these are collated in some way. I’m fairly certain that this was the way it was done over the development of BL2 but I can’t say for sure if this is current practise.

I’m fairly sure that we’d set up a similar mega-thread in any BL3 section if one existed, as it would still be full of many threads that would be hard to find, and it would be more difficult to parse the actual ideas out of the inevitable lengthy and possibly acrimonious discussions, I think. That’s why we set up the wishlist thread as one of the very few threads ever to exist here that actually discouraged discussion! There is method to our madness, I can assure you, and I believe that it’s recognised as a useful way of gaining direct and raw feedback by the devs. It’s not perfect; If you can suggest a better way of making ideas easily accessible, then we’re open to suggestions.

Honestly? We can’t. Not really. We can give feedback here. You can’t guarantee that gbx will produce what you personally want, because, well, they aren’t making a game exclusively for you, H0PE, or me, for that matter. Not all gamers want the exact same thing as you. They are going to be targeting a wide gaming audience, some of whom will not enjoy the same things as you. This place has plenty of threads full of people not agreeing on what fun is. It’s personal. BUT: I know that gbx take their fan base very seriously indeed. So I’m very optimistic.

However: gearbox are going to have to face the challenge of providing ‘just enough’ change. Too much new stuff will result in people complaining that it’s not really borderlands. Not enough new stuff will result in ‘lazy devs just reskin bl’ accusations, as indeed we saw to some degree on the release of bl2 and that you seem to be hinting at. I don’t see how they will be able to satisfy everyone, and I don’t think that’s even theoretically possible. In fact, I’m not sure they should even try to do that, I think they should stick to their vision of what they want BL3 to be as they have been great games so far!

I’m just going to search for an old article which discusses how gbx handle Playtest feedback…
Back in a bit…
Here it is: https://www.polygon.com/gaming/2012/3/14/2861998/gearbox-borderlands-testing
My point in posting this is to show how complex and nuanced their response to feedback is, and how what we say we want might differ from what we actually get in gameplay implementation.

Lastly, If you have any concerns about moderator responses such as moving a thread into the ‘ideas’ thread, please pm a mod and we can look at the decision again.

I hope this clarifies some stuff for you.

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Thanks for all the comments. I read through all of it, however I rather not reply, because I don’t want to sound argumentative.

I was hesitant to post my comment for days. I might sounds like a person who never gets satisfaction out of games, that is not the case. But somehow Almost all games gives me the feeling of “I could have been more than this”. Not achieving the goal of the genre perfectly. Not achieving the goal of being a “full product for your buck”.

Let me just try and put my thought down to point to the direction where game development head IMHO:
-The games are getting more complex by design. Thus additional bug hunting and testing procedures should occur. We can see that this is not the case, in fact games are move buggy on release, and features are missing from the released product, and the promised feature is released as a patch as an “extra feature” rather.

This causes the effect of “first bad impressin sticks” feel. So devs really have to stat pushing out ALMOST complete games. Or the bad impression sticks and people tell their friends the worse thing they can say: dont buy, its bugged.

-Even AAA Dev. companies paying less to their workers, and pushing the release times shorter to get more profit and less Dev. costs. This even the games are complex by design, they are dumbed down ideas of earlier released. “Looks great sounds great, then its a great game” feel happens with most of the AAA games, Indie games are a different story.

-Forums now [to me] feels like a venting place, and most importantly players helping players places. Vs. what I think it should be. IT should add extra value to the game and helping the devs. to find bugs issues. Before you say that admins and the company looking at the posts, gathering intel… We don’t know that, we don’t know the process the actual effectiveness of this, and my gut feeling says its so minimal it can be disregarded most of the time. Why do I think that is? The system of process is missing from the forum environment. This might change with bots and AI getting more smarter, but right now its a very bad manual labor for admins. Very much not effective.

Until there is a bug report section, with support personnel giving you ticket numbers on the forum, until there isn’t a feature request section where support personnel giving you a full list of requests that is handed into the dev. team, sorry I feel this is just a discussion between me and a representative of the company, nothing more, who tells me what I would like to hear.

Let me give you exact examples:
A good example where devs are listening and going with the requests:
BFV - Runs great! Looks awesome! PLAYS GREAT! Barely any bugs, EXCEPT some of them (one bug particularily hindered players to finish some weekly event goals, we were unable to build fortifications last week). One thing that is impacting me as a player there though, is that somehow their forum is broken, BFV doesn’t show on anyones player profile. Also after 1 month of release, the BF Companion app still doesn’t show BFV, when it should. Probably some technical issue, or they were not able to finish it.
Still we can argue that they do some weird changes during now, the 2nd. week of the event that is drastically changes the gameplay, namely TTK - Time To Kill got longer on almost all of the weapons. This change is drastic, and there isn’t any PTR, no tests occurs only they did some calculation and “give it a go let see what happens”. To be honest, I like the change, but many hardcore players dont. :smiley:

A Bad example:
Fallout 76
A terribly broken, badly advertised, missing feature(le)s product. Not even going into details it is just an utter fail game.
WoW
My biggest letdown in this year and many people. What they do there is just over the top dumbness. Perfect example of Looks Great and Sounds Great, The area and graph is amazing, the story is okay, the music again is AMAZING! the background sound of the areas, just so good! The game design is trash. Almost no player says they like the azerite armor system. The classes are really out of their place -not saying broken since you can’t really break what a tank supposed to do and a healer and a dps, but its a big pile of mix and mush on all classes now-. This is one of the best examples of how you can throw gamers to rage, if you go to the forum is a ventfest.

One more interesting point of view for me to look at Tom Clancy’s The Division.
I personally didn’t experience such a detailed world in any of the games before ever. The map, the environment, the areas are so detailed, Feels like some insane crazy group who wanted to build a full detailed world done it, I never saw such a thing before.
The story I personally love, very very good story.
Music and effects and sounds omg, just top notch!
What is interesting is how the Devs approached the games life-cycle. Once you done the story, the gearing up, the instance-es, the events, then thats it, there is nothing new to do. You can grind better gear parts from the ones you already got (I have all the sets, all the legendaries, piling up on my chars). And this happened slowly but surely, the developers kind of in a “game over” state, the gearing up process slowly changed during the last two years into a 6 peace gear set and legendaries that are now kind of easy to get. No additional events, no new content for this year happened. I would personally wanted to play much more with the game, but there is just the same things over and over… Hard to explain I expected more stuff, but we barely got anything new this year, they are working on Division 2, and they probably want Division players to get bored and move over to Two when it comes out.

etc, etc.

Bug reports are certainly a large part of this forum’s purpose, along with the Zendesk tech support system, which does use the ticketed report system etc. I -again- absolutely guarantee that this is the first port of call for devs following release to check for bugs.

I understand your scepticism: we don’t necessarily see any evidence of devs reading the forum, unless they post here. All I can say is that I know they do! That’s why there’s such an emphasis on our part in ensuring that even if someone is just ‘venting’ that they are encouraged to provide clear and accurate feedback: the devs are only human, and picking the actual problem out of a whole load of sweary capslock can be tricky.

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Sounds good man, I really have high hopes for BL3. Especially in the light of getting BFV, is a fantastically positive surprise for me, I hope Anthem, Division 2 will follow their lead. Then we can hope BL3 will give the same Adrenalin rush and ALMOST PERFECT Enjoyment for thousands of hours to come. :slight_smile:

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Oh, and whilst I cannot guarantee that the mods read every single post, collectively we do cover this place pretty much 24/7 and make sure that any bug reports get directed to the zendesk tech support as soon as possible. We also occasionally alert gbx staff ourselves if we think the user who reported it is not online to act on that advice, or if we see a cluster of reports that require investigation.

Gbx do need feedback, both positive and negative. If someone has had a negative experience, then they want to know about it. The forum rules are there to ensure that angry posters get the chance to explain their situation a bit more clearly and calmly so that the feedback gets heard.

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Just to add to what PH said, actual bugs (and steps needed to reproduce them if possible) can be filed through the support system. You can find the relevant section for each game starting from this page:

https://gearboxsoftware.zendesk.com/hc/en-us

You can also find hotfix and update notes for each game listed there.

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Sure, I get it…

My concern is mainly not about bug reports after the release though. Rather the “finished” product I’m contemplating about. How can we make sure we get what we want. Not just me. I’m pretty sure most of the people would feel a bit down if they would get a kind of “+1 BL2 game”. With almost no or minimal extra features.

What I really hate actually in BL games is the issue with shadow and detailed texture rendering. It is AWFUL even in BL TPS! You can literally see the shadow appear 10steps away from you. I really hope they will update the engine, because that was unacceptable in BL2 and even in BL TPS. BL is old, we can say okay its way too old to look better, so… BL3 Engine cannot have that crappy shadow detail or I rage! :smiley:

Honestly, we can’t. Gearbox are making the game they are making. We can express the things we like and don’t like but, ultimately, all the creative decisions are entirely up to Gearbox. I can tell you that the folks at GBX are just as passionate about the games as the fans, and want to deliver the best possible experience they can.

I’d also add that ‘what we want’ is a tricky thing, since fans inevitably want different things. There are, for example, those who don’t want the story intruding on the action ever, and those who greatly value the story as an integral part of the experience. Those are diametrically opposed “wants”, so there’s clearly no way to make all those fans happy at the same time.

That is largely a function of what was possible in UE3 given that the game had to perform on 360, PS3, and what by today’s standards would be quite low end PCs. If you’ve watched the UE4 tech demo Randy Pitchford ran at a GDC last year, you’ll see that the new engine and better hardware available (PS4/XB1/PC) offer some significant improvements in this area.

Mmmmmmm. Those sweet, sweet shaders. Mmm mmm. Mmmm.

I just want a character with a nice ass in BL3.

Reading through the forums… I told you so… :cry:

Don’t fix what isn’t broken, this isn’t CoD where the gameplay got stale because it never really changes a dozen titles in. There’s some jank BL3 shouldn’t have (and 2 hadn’t), but it’s not a bad game. It just will never be better than 2 in my opinion. And you hear this from someone who has been utterly sceptical about 3 due to all the controversies surrounding 2K, and Randy Pitchford.

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And thank RNGesus they didn’t “fix”? “Break”? Idk what the correct term would be.

They nailed bl3 and created a fantastic game. The majority of us wanted more borderlands and that’s what we got

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Two things : the average person’s sense of entitlement has increased exponentially in the last few (let’s say 7) years. And from what I heard, the GBX forum was in the exact same state 7 years ago for the 2 launch.

Have you seen what people are squawking about? In a stunning number of cases it has little or nothing to do with BL3 or even gaming at all.

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