Are the Diablo 3 Community Managers “Noobs?”


A fan asks to see the Battle.net profiles of the CMs and starts a thread that turns into a referendum on how much the CMs need to play in order to have valid/informed opinions about the game. The whole thread is long and covers several issues, so here’s a quote of the meaty part and you can read the whole thing in order if you click through.

How many chars do you have? Do you play hardcore? Do you use the Auction house (gold or $) or play with self-drop? At which paragon level are you with your best char?
Grimiku: I have four characters, but I am mostly focused on my main who is a Witch Doctor. I also have a 60 Barbarian, a mid-30’s Demon Hunter, and a mid-20’s Hardcore Witch Doctor.

I use the gold auction house with my main, but my alts use nothing except self-found items. And all the gold I get goes to my main who is Paragon 16 for now.

Without being condescending, hateful or confrontational I will like to point out that you will be considered a noob , not a high profile player. I will also like to think that you DO NOT have an input in class balance meetings , I hardly think you can make correct suggestions with your limited playing experience.
Lylirra: We’re community managers, not developers or testers. Our job is to relay community feedback to the developers, ensure that they’re aware of the latest trends and hot topics, be a voice/advocate for the player whenever possible, and (in return) communicate information from the development team back to you. There are a myriad of other responsibilities, too, but those are the big ones.

Whether or not we’re “noobs” in your mind is irrelevant to our ability to perform our jobs well.

My personal experiences don’t represent all players, though. And that’s a very important realization when it comes to being a community manager. While knowledge and awareness of the game is critical (since it provides context to the feedback we’re seeing), we can’t let our own opinions bias what we pass on to the development team. We can politely disagree, of course, but we keep that to ourselves. 🙂

Our goal is to pass along information to the developers that will allow them to make informed decisions — ones that they feel will benefit the long-term health of the game — not further our own personal agendas as players of Diablo III.

The community managers have a lot of responsibilities, with all sorts of press and PR interactions, meetings, interacting with media, working at press events and demos, etc. And they’ve got to keep up with all of Blizzard’s games, not just D3. I think some fans imagine their work day with D3 on one monitor and B.net forums on the other, with the only interruptions coming when it’s their turn to take Jay Wilson a fresh coffee. Not so much.

The real kicker I kept waiting for one of them to drop into this thread… is that (most) game developers don’t play their games either. Especially not post release. I’d call that a dirty secret of the industry, but I didn’t actually think it was a secret?

Devs obviously have to keep up on the latest issues, and see what fans are liking/hating, and they’ve got server stats to refer to, and there are testers who do play all day to test problems and communicate those to the devs, but the devs are like, busy. They’ve got real lives and families and outside interests, and after spending all day working on a game, do you really think they’re going to rush home and play another 4 hours of it that night? Even if they did, they don’t have 40 hours a day to play intensively enough to be expert in every character/style/build/technique/etc.

Thus it’s a fairly universal truth that a month after release, every popular game has vast legions of players who are FAR more expert/experienced at playing the game than anyone actually working on it. So no, as Lylirra said, you don’t have to be expert in play experience to have useful input and design ideas about a game. Though you’d be wise to take input and advice from people who are playing those kind of hours.

The full thread is below:

Can the CMs add a “view profile” feature to their forum posts? Whenever Lylirra, Grimiku, Vaeflare, etc talk about your chars I always wish I could see them. Would be nice.
Grimiku: We may not be able to provide you with links to our profiles (largely to help prevent against possible harassment issues), but if you have questions about our Diablo III play experiences you can always ask us. We’re usually pretty open about what we’re current playing or experiencing with, and we love to chat about that kind of thing with fellow players whenever we can. We also tend to talk a lot about our play experiences on Twitter, so free to follow us: @Lylirra @Grimiku and @Vaeflare

How many chars do you have? Do you play hardcore? Do you use the Auction house (gold or $) or play with self-drop? At which paragon level are you with your best char?
Grimiku: I have four characters, but I am mostly focused on my main who is a Witch Doctor. I also have a 60 Barbarian, a mid-30’s Demon Hunter, and a mid-20’s Hardcore Witch Doctor.

I use the gold auction house with my main, but my alts use nothing except self-found items. And all the gold I get goes to my main who is Paragon 16 for now.

You guys uber Blizz geared? “Sword of a thousand truths” <== South park reference
Grimiku: We do not get special items or treatment as employees, and with that in mind I would say my gear is pretty average. My main character rarely sells items on the gold auction house, so most items are bought on a small budget. The most expensive item on my purchase history only went for 2 million gold and is a 914 DPS ceremonial knife.

Without being condescending, hateful or confrontational I will like to point out that you will be considered a noob , not a high profile player.

I will also like to think that you DO NOT have an input in class balance meetings , I hardly think you can make correct suggestions with your limited playing experience.
Lylirra: We’re community managers, not developers or testers. Our job is to relay community feedback to the developers, ensure that they’re aware of the latest trends and hot topics, be a voice/advocate for the player whenever possible, and (in return) communicate information from the development team back to you. There are a myriad of other responsibilities, too, but those are the big ones.

Whether or not we’re “noobs” in your mind is irrelevant to our ability to perform our jobs well.

For example , do you really feel the wrath of Reflect Damage?
Lylirra: I don’t personally have a problem with the affix. It’s not my favorite, but I’ve learned how to deal with those Elite packs and I’ve got gear that supports it.

My personal experiences don’t represent all players, though. And that’s a very important realization when it comes to being a community manager. While knowledge and awareness of the game is critical (since it provides context to the feedback we’re seeing), we can’t let our own opinions bias what we pass on to the development team. We can politely disagree, of course, but we keep that to ourselves. 🙂

Our goal is to pass along information to the developers that will allow them to make informed decisions — ones that they feel will benefit the long-term health of the game — not further our own personal agendas as players of Diablo III.

(That said, I think the changes we’re considering to Reflects Damage are super interesting, and I’d love to see how they might be implemented.)

I simply want to point out that CMs need to play the game extensively to be an effective advocate for players.
Lylirra: We do. Quite a bit. We even make sure that we play together weekly during scheduled sessions. We may not all be Paragon 100 or have 80k+ Elite kills to each of our characters’ names, but we’re still experienced gamers and go out of our way to contextualize the feedback we see on a day-to-day basis.

As for your example, that was information provided directly from the developers, not something based in personal opinion.

The first thing he says completly ruins his point of it not being as big a deal as people are making it out to be.
Lylirra: No. I’m saying that just because my personal experience has been different doesn’t mean that feedback regarding the difficulty of Reflects Damage is any less valid. Please read the whole post and try to understand its context. =/

Wouldn’t it be better not to post comments that are disconnected from reality?
Lylirra: We know some players may not always agree with how the game designed, or why some changes are made. It’s not worth lying or purposely misrepresenting information, though.

As for Hellfire Rings, we didn’t want a single item to be a source of Brimstone farming. Even so, we’re currently evaluating what else we might allow the rings to salvage into.

Comments

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  1. Going to play devil’s advocate on this one but I think the CM’s get paid to read the forums and pass the feedback to devs. Playing the game seems like something they’d do when they have free time.

    • I’d *hope* a requirement of being a CM would be to be as well versed in the game as *most* of its players. Weekly sessions a minimal end-game experience does not keep you in touch with the needs of even the average community forum user.

      • Just because these CMs work for a gaming company, does not mean they need to be top tier players to do their job (as described). As long as they meet their job description, which probably does not include being a top rated D3 player, then they are good in my books.

        Just like a car salesman, he/she probably knows less about the car than you, but their job is to make a sale, not know ins/outs of a car. Samething applies to these CMs.

        • IMO that’s false. The best car salesman DOES know the ins and outs of the car. How confident am I in the guy pitching a product to me only to have him say, “Let me talk to the engineers and get back to you on that.” As the person in charge of swaying my buying decision, he needs to be (and usually is) on point.

          Same with CMs: 40+ hours a week, their only job is to live and breathe Diablo III. If they don’t have the fingers on the pulse of the needs of the members that make up that community, then they’ve failed at their job. I believe the way to do that is to share the same experiences (and headaches) of those members.

          We have a CM at my company. He’s great at what he does; he came into the role knowing all he needed to about managing a community. But it doesn’t mean that he then got to stop learning and just run with his existing skill set. When he came on board, he was immediately charged with learning the ins and outs of our product line, and with getting in the heads to understand the needs of our customers. He did.

          • Knowing the ins and outs for a salesman is knowing how to tell someone what is and isn’t valuable to them. It’s a bad comparison; what you’re saying means you’d be better off buying a car from a mechanic, or a street racer.

            The big deal is preference, and casual player slant. A lot of players just play casually, and the CMs/Devs are probably going to fit into that for the most part.
            And the biggest thing there; who do you think is most polarized, most vocal about changes they want, with an obvious bias? Them neckbeards, mentioned above/below. While you could argue that a mechanic would know the most about the “best” car, even that is a little silly, too – everyone will have a biased preference, and few will have the self awareness to notice that. Hell, I’m still mad about the asp nerf from the beginning, and that hit everyone.

            The point is, how much they play isn’t really a great way to appropriate merit when we HAVE a huge community of free opinions. Everybody has one, here, smell mine.

          • Bad analogy

            the car salesman might know the ins & outs of the car. But he didn’t spend 40hrs a week for months driving the car to learn it all himself from hands on experience. He’s briefed by the developers/engineers.

            He has a full time job already….. selling cars.

    • Free time or paid time, i think the real issue here is that many of the cms use “personal experience” stories to highlight/add flavor to their posts.

      Often times that experience is vastly different than what the community as a whole is experiencing. Often times the way they have used the stories have just been wrong (as in the game just doesnt behave that way). Almost as if the cms were making the stories up.

      I dont think its wrong that the cms largely appear not to play much…. But they shouldnt represent that they do… And then use that to bolster their credibility. (especially when the example they use is different than how the game actually functions)

    • Community Manager for Doritos.com:
      “I eat Doritos fairly regularly and think they’re pretty good. I’ve never actually finished a bad myself, but I feel qualified to relay the feedback of those who have.”

      • Again, you fail to understand what a CM’s role is. They are there to relay information from the community to the developers. They don’t have to be experts in the products themselves.

        Assume you are a paragon 75+ player that knows every detail of the game. But you will probably fail miserably at being a CM.

  2. If you REALLY like a game you usually play it quite a bit, even if you work, have family, etc.
    It doesn’t seem to me like CMs and devs are passionate about D3. Maybe because it sucks?

    • What’s your job? When you get home from work, do you want to spend another 4 hours doing it for free, on your own time?

      • If you’d be a stonemason, I bet you wouldn’t wanna do your work at home. But the CMs job are quite different in many ways. It’s not really as tiring, and their job is NOT playing, so playing at home wouldn’t be the same.

      • actually, yeah, lol

        I spend hours on the Mr Excel and stackexchange forums reading questions about Access, Excel, SQL Server and VBA

        what a sad life

      • Who says they don’t read the forums and post replies when they are at home? 😉

  3. how he can pass deedback .. when he dont know game mechanics? and even dont know what about ppl talking?….

    • That makes no sense. Why does a messenger needs to understand the message? Does your mailman know every detail of the package he delivers to you?

  4. Lord, gamers can be such jerks. The guy said he’s Paragon level 16. In a *normal* person’s life, that’s a major time invested in the game and a ton of hours running around Inferno. But that’s not good enough to the damn hardcore gamers who have such crappy, skewed, self-absorbed views of reality. Ugh.

    • Yeah, well, the Battle.net forums aren’t exactly renowned for being the exclusive romping place of highly sophisticated debaters. I tend to agree 100% with your comment, though. ;D

      Of course, playing the game 12 hours per day, seven days a week cannot be a requirement for working as a professional PR mediator; the angry forum kid himself actually proves the antithesis here, in regards to social skills and being in touch with reality.

      Yet still, there is a tiny spark of truth in this: Upon release and with each major change, there is always a slight feeling that noone (not specifically the GMs, but not even the professional Q&A testers) had a chance to do actual, real in-depth playtesting in advance. Surely they are testing hardware-related issues, new systems and mechanics like mad, possibly even in various scenarios – but since day 1 it seems that proper, coherent testing and consecutive tuning of the non-press-relevant content sections (beyond normal difficulty) seem to rely heavily on the customers’ gameplay experiences …

      • I would argue that even the best QA team with plenty of resources and months of prep would still not be able to get out every single little issue, or foretell every problem without fail. There are some things that only come out of the wood work when hundreds of thousands of users are added into the equation.

        Of course, it’s kind of inexcusable when a glaringly obvious (game breaking) bug somehow makes it in, but my point is that there’s no real feasible way to get obscenely large groups of testers for every patch. :B

    • Completely agreed. Some people on the internet and particularly the Battle.Net forums need to wake up and get a dose of reality where you can’t eat cheetos and play Diablo III 16 hours a day.

      And what the fudge is about calling everybody who isn’t elite for “noob”??
      As far as I know, noob is an insulting version of newbie which means ‘new player’.

      To guys like that poster, it’s like there’s only ‘noob’ and ‘elite’ and nothing in between…..
      I’ve seen it before though….

      • Yeah I remember back in the day of being a newbie of runescape where the heck did this whole noob thing come in anyways? Newbie was not seen as a insult it was just said when someone was obvious new to the game and may need help with parts of it at first.

      • For me a noob is and always will be the idiots who do stupid stuff all the time no matter what. Like in a game I used to play where to kill a certain monster really fast you needed to use fire damage (all damage with out fire with it was healed by the monster after a few seconds) but the idiots would use non fire damage attacks instead no matter how much they where told fire is best just because the other attack said it did 30% more damage.

      • You’re not kidding. My main is ‘only’ paragon 14, but I’ve been playing Diablo 3 since release day, Diablo II since 2001 and games in general since 1994… so who’s the noob? 😛

    • Exactly! I follow the forums, I played the beta, I bought Diablo 3 right away and yet my main is level 56 or something.

      Among my friends, most have a character at 60 but I think most are not even as far as the CM.

      But then, I only have 5 hours of gaming per week, give or take, and there are other good games out there too *gasp*

  5. I doubt many would consider a player with a para 16 character a “noob”, certainly not most like the person is stating. My highest happens to be para 16 also and I’ve played almost 500 hours.

  6. This reads like just another excuse to bash the community managers.

    This is a game. A fairly simple hack and slash at that. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery. If a person has played through norm one time they’ve got the knowledge to understand all the threads on a board.

    The community managers are undoubtedly aware how the game plays and what all the acronyms mean. The rest of their job is just reading all threads and separating the whining from the legitimate issues. You don’t need to be Hardcore Paragon 100 on all classes to do that.

    • “If a person has played through norm one time they’ve got the knowledge to understand all the threads on a board.”

      All the threads… excluding anything end-game, or anything about the levelling carve outside of normal, or really anything not related to story or even how the other 4 characters classes play, or even half the runes that unlock after level 30…. I believe I found a flaw in your logic. A person would never experience a whole lot of things simply playing norm once.

  7. the who said he was noob is a noob himself.
    those spoiled childs these days.
    hardcore gamers are idiots !!!!!!!!!!!

  8. “is that (most) game developers don’t play their games either. Especially not post release.”

    I happen to know a guy who works at Dice (battlefield) and was therefore visiting their office’s gaming room on a friday evening. Felt a bit like a nerd. I played with my 2 friends there, but there were also six other guys sitting and playing. Had no idea of whom they were.
    When we left, one of my friends told me that those guys were some of the top designers at Dice and apparently some quite big names. And they sat there playing BF3 (and also starcraft 2…) a late friday night in their own office. THAT’s dedication to your own game!
    So at least it’s not all developers that don’t play their game after release, just most 😛

    • I think it depends on the game TBH for some games it is pointless replaying them like the on rails shooters and puzzle adventure games where once you played it all it over.

  9. The condescension in that thread is pretty insane. The implication — hell, it’s outright stated — is that the game is about, and for, only the uber Captain Neckbeards among us, rather than anything else. No, that’s not to say that I regret Jay’s grandma being a demographic for the game (ugh), but there’s definitely a separation there between Captain Neckbeard of the Mountain Dew/Cheetos Clan, and someone that can play the game avidly without playing it all day, every day. Hell, I would say most people sticking with the game so far are not akin to the really hardcore, and it’s not in Blizzard’s interest to appeal to them anyway.

    Also, I don’t know what the thread is really about, but it’s doubly amusing that the thread is QQ about reflect damage, and the tenor is “Y U NOT HARDCORE ENUF TO WANT TO NERF REFLECT DAMAGE?!?!?!?!” Maybe if you were as un-“noob” as you think you are, Mr. Battle.Net Poster Guy, you’d actually know how to deal with an affix that’s not even a real problem.

  10. All of the current CMs suck. Caydiem, Tyren, and Ordinn ftw.

  11. I feel like whenever I look up Diablo 3 the community is finding some new reason to whine over the most delusional of reasons.

    • Yeah….sad isn’t it 🙁

      Then again – it seems that in general, people take much more time to complain about something they think is wrong, than to praise something they think is right. If things are working as you hope they should, when would you bother telling anyone?

  12. I think you also missed something important in that the devs don’t have to be playing tonnes of hours to get a feel for how the game is playing – they have a TON of data coming in every day, from hardcore and casual players alike which they can use to make design and balance decisions.

    No one player can ever have that much information on how the game is played in so many different styles, so in the end, they are actually in the best position to decide what to change in the game, no matter how many hundreds of hours you personally put in.

    I’m not saying that player feedback is meaningless…numbers can only tell you so much – but as a player, you only have your personal experience to draw on. That is nowhere near enough information to make a game that is enjoyable for thousands of people who play in very different ways.

  13. I can’t blame the CMs or the devs for not wanting to play this game in their free time. I wouldn’t if I were in their shoes. I think you would be pretty naive to think they do. The only people I DO blame for having not actually played the game is the quality control testers.

  14. They probably don’t get to play much during office hours but they should be playing in their free time.

    In their type of job it would be a prerequisite that they are gamers and already play in their free time so they will be expected to continue to WANT to play games in their free time. Some of that time should be spent playing the games they represent but they don’t have to be 60/100 players to be knowledgeable or to perform their duties as CMs.

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