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2014 DDO Players Council: Update #1

Welcome to the first update about what the DDO Players Council has been up to! One of the goals of the DDO Players Council is to create a place where we can get direct feedback from a diverse group of voices, and we’re very happy with the effort so far. We’ve been working to ensure that while we respect the needs of the Players Council’s Non-Disclosure Agreement, we also provide as much transparency into the process as possible. Part of that transparency includes this update. We hope you enjoy reading it, and get some sense of what’s been going on in the past month and a half or so.
Want to find out more about the DDO Players Council? Click here.
The DDO Players Council was formed in early February. Once we got everything and everyone set up, we began asking them to provide feedback on a growing number of topics, primarily related to things that are quite early in the development process. Some topics concerned things that everyone will see in Update 22, including Airships, Airship Amenities, Epic Three Barrel Cove, and the bard Swashbuckler enhancement tree. Other topics were more general in nature, including “give us your least-liked bug”, “Which adventure pack would YOU like to make Epic?”, and “If you could change one thing about DDO…” We’ve also asked the council about a couple of topics that are so early in development that we’re just not ready to talk about it yet. Sorry! We’ve had more than a dozen Official Discussion topics so far, but have also chatted with Council members about various subjects they’ve raised in a special Council General Discussions forum meant to give them a place to talk to us outside of the Official Discussions.
We’re just getting started! Expect the Players Council to hear about things in the coming weeks and months related to Update 23 (Anauroch) and Update 24 (level cap increase to 30), Sentient/Intelligent weapons, and more!
We also asked Players Council members to give us public feedback about their experience so far. Without further ado:
So far being a member of the PC has been exciting and fun. I was worried when I accepted this position that I would not be able to give as much of my time as was needed, but as it turns out it's been rather flexible. 
I am excited every time we get a new subject to discuss, but I do not always have the time to give proper feedback and only return to it a few days later. The Turbine staff involved in this project have been active on the PC forums replying to questions and comments and it at least seems like they are listening to us, lol. 
I try my best to look at ideas critically, commenting on what I like and don't like, as well as offer suggestions to improvement to the things I do not like. I understand that it is impossible to please everyone, but I hope we will be able to affect the upcoming updates/ changes positively. – Micki
So far being in the Council has been a positive experience. I've given feedback on many issues and concepts, some in threads started by Turbine and some in threads by myself and other Council members. While I could always wish for more (and more and more and ...) feedback from the devs, I think they've actually struck a good balance between coming back to us with response to our concerns/ideas/suggestions and not getting caught up in nitpicking over smaller details and not risking leading the conversations.
On the player side of things, people have been remarkably calm and well-reasoned. Respect from me to my fellow Council members for that! We all have our pet likes and hates, but feedback has been very constructive and positive in spirit. Even when we have disagreed - which happens a lot since we are a very diverse group - the tone has pretty cordial.
While I personally wouldn't have minded even more topics for discussion, I understand that the Council has to be balanced for people with less available time than myself (I have no life :P), and not be a burden but rather something that people look forward to. Keep 'em hungry, I suppose. – Dandonk
I was talking to a RL friend about this and I tried to explain to her what this particular council did and she said
"Oh, it's like a focus group?"
And I said, no, it's not blind and it's not a one-off.
So she said,
"Oh, so it's like that charity board you're on."
And I said, no, each member of the charity board owns something and we don't comment unless it relates to our particular committee.
So she said
"It sounds weird."
And I said
Yeah, it's like they ask you a question, you give your opinion, and then 29 other people dissect your opinion at random and...
And she was like
"So like brainstorming?"
And I said
"Not really. It's more like those online forums where everyone feels obligated to give their opinion about every little thing. I think some of them are looking for a fight to win. Over and over and over."
And she said
"It sounds awful."
And I was like
"Nah, it's kind of fun." – MugginsMai
For me being part of the Player Council has been, so far, an interesting experience. We have been asked feedback on things that are at a very early stage of creation (if not only on paper) and there's a real interaction between us and the designers/developers. Yes, it doesn't means that in the end what we suggest will be implemented, but there's is a real interaction and I feel that they are listening to us when we voice our concern on a topic. 
The Player Council members seems to have been carefully chosen to represent most (if not all) the playing style, and while we have disagreed on various topics it has always been cordial and in keeping the cooperation between us towards getting what we hope is a better DDO (for the majority). 
The only down bit for me so far is when we voice a concern for something that is supposed to be beyond our control (like things that happens on Lammania). – Flavilandile
The PC is a very varied bunch and as I've got to know them more I greater appreciate the many varied voices that we offer. It's somewhat different to the last year of Mournlands in that some items have been more conceptual and imaginative. And I've been proud to voice those concerns of my friends, guildies and party members when I have been able to on certain topics. Similar levels of passionate discussion and less directed format to Lamannia on mostly different topics. 
I haven't copped as much flak in game as I feared ; although CE refers to me as the "Privy Councilor" - thanks guys! - and Thalone regularly gives me grief - but he would anyway 
The devs have been fairly forthcoming answering questions and interacting with us - good to see how well they are doing so also on Lammania and the general forums (Varg no! No more extra ghostbane! ). Makes a huge difference I think to both sides when we communicate more. 
I miss some of the ML peeps desperately at times (Eth, Virt) and I can see many posters on the forums who would be brilliant additions to the PC some time in the future. – MeliCat
So far being a member of the player council has been very good for me; there has been several things that we all have brought up that we would like to see chances too and or added to the game. This is the first time for me being in a group like this and it is very fun, I have sever friends that play other MMORPG's and some of them have done things similar to this. I feel that we have a strong group of people on the council ranging from all walks of life in the game, this gives us a advantage in my mind because we can we relate to almost every type of player out there and we can adjust to thinking like them as well. There is still a lot that i would like to see done and i know that its going to take time and some persuasion, however I believe that it can have a good chance of happening. Being a member of the council is a challenge and I like it very much and I can say that so far I have very much liked my experience here. – Hale99
I'm enjoying it, having fun. Though I'm hard pressed to say we're having the impact we might. The dialog I expected (perhaps unrealistically) is there, but it is more limited than I would have liked. Which is understandable, given the work schedules, and other factors (*small bit removed*). So far the feeling of having an impact positive or negative is limited, it does seem that we will only see a small selection of what they have planned.
Still it appears like we were instrumental in helping to get Divine Crusader delayed for improvements on the whole sphere. Hopefully we can get the same treatment for Swashbuckler.
Just being honest, it does feel more like a focus group and less like a council. – IronClan
Turbine has asked the opinion of this group of players about future plans that include exciting changes in the air-ships of the guilds, the upgrade packs for epic versions, changes in classes trees and new interfaces for new features. The way the plenary are conducted with the participation of developers and game designers is very exciting. Imagine that the opinion of a player can change the game in its form and content really makes me dream. – Nyrvjin
As one of the few people that was in Mournlands and was selected to be on the Player Council, it's interesting to see the differences and similarities there are. There's still players that are very vocal with suggestions and concerns, and then others that prefer to just chime in on certain topics. It's also very different not having any dedicated server to test on. In Mournlands, we'd typically get introduced to the new things once they were already in development and existed on the server. In fact, I remember some feedback only being requested until we could actually see it hands on. It's quite a large step then that nearly everything we've discussed on the Player Council is very early and rough. We're actually being presented with ideas that only exist on paper or just barely in code. It's very different from how things used to be done, and I'm actually rather glad of it. Of course, I still miss having No Pants Tuesdays and running quests and raids with all the other testers, but I'm hoping this method of feedback will be more useful in the long run.
It's a bit hard to say exactly how much impact our feedback has had so far. We've given opinions on the (*topic removed*), the new Three Barrel Cove, Compendium UI, and a new Bard PRE. While there's been a bit of back and forth in discussion, I'm not exactly sure if anything has actually changed one way or the other on feedback. That's probably not something we'll really find out till Update 22 but I thought it important to note. Lamannia might fill the role Mournlands once served, though I doubt it will ever act quite the same. Sometimes we had some really fast turnaround with Mournlands feedback when it was loud enough or a dev worked with us to hash out details on a system. So far, the Council is a bit more long in the tooth, but I still appreciate that back and forth we've had so far. I just want that continue through the year as the next few updates come.
I do know there's been some grumbling about transparency. I personally feel it's a necessary evil to keep some things under wraps. Obviously announcing the (*topic removed*) would be a poor thing if it never actually got developed, or even proved too controversial to implement. Personally, I'd love to go and tell people some of the things we've discussed so far. In particular, all the ideas presented for Airships and Three Barrel Cove sound amazing for updates. I'm still not really sure where the transparency line should end, but it would be nice to tell people just a bit more what's been going on behind the scenes. I simply want every player to be excited about what might be coming in the near future.
Overall, I've enjoyed my time with the Player Council so far. I feel like my feedback and opinions have gotten to have some real weight considered to them. It may not be quite like Mournlands, but then it wasn't supposed to be either. – Coldin
I'm happy to be a voice on the council. Like the other council members, I believe my passion for the game and my views on what aspects of the game make it an enjoyable experience are worth hearing. I think I've also got a pretty good grasp of which aspects of the game sap the fun, enjoyment and challenge from the game. The fact that I completely disagree with a number of the opinions of the other council members is undoubtedly a good thing in terms of Turbine getting rounded feedback. Even though everyone who disagrees with me is obviously wrong and need to rethink their opinions.  
The official discussions we've had have been interesting enough, and some of the plans on paper are unexpected, ambitious and exciting. Time will tell how the execution and delivery of those plans make it into the live game. The unofficial discussions that we've raised I have mixed feelings about. Some of them are just repeating exactly what's been said time and time again on the main forums. While some things like the need for a revamped character sheet cannot be said often enough, it does give a feeling of deja view and I'm not sure what value these have to Turbine.
Because most of the discussions relate to things from U22 onwards it's difficult to see if we are making any impact. A developer posting in a discussion we've started really doesn't indicate more than "read by a dev" in any other forum post. What I would like to see to keep the council's motivation and enthusiasm maintained over the duration of our one year term is more feedback from the devs on the changes or actions that result from our feedback. So where our feedback on Epic 3BC has resulted in a change of direction or reinforced a planned direction, it would be good to know. That way we can see that we are making the difference that we hope to. – Deadlock
Positive Feedback:
Early look at concepts and ideas has given us an ability to give feedback earlier in the development cycle
The Development team has taken our feedback (along with the general forum feedback) and shown willingness to modify their plan -- specifically the decision to delay Divine Crusader and rework the Divine ED's
The PC has meet its stated goal of having representation from a high variety of players/customers of DDO -- there is play styles represented that I didn't even know existed.
Areas for improvement:
Lack of clarity on the overall vision -- we see disjointed ideas and without the context of how it fits into the larger picture it is difficult for us to give holistic feedback
When ideas are presented, the goal for that idea (what problem is it solving, what outcomes is the development team trying to achieve, how does this fit into the vision/road map for DDO, is this about monetization or is that a secondary concern) is not shared. This makes it much more difficult to give focused feedback and only reduces the signal-to-noise ratio.
The Turbine team needs improvement in sharing with the players council on how PC feedback is being used and what impact it is having on the development process. -- I realize that the feedback cycle is extra work on the dev team, however; if you want to keep us motivated and continue to get in depth feedback on your ideas... this is critical
Communication on gameplay/balance goals (Lead Designer) and Overall product goals/business direction (Project Manager/Producer) would be helpful and serve to bring the PC members into the team (we are still outside looking in). I understand that the information would need to be sanitized and it would require a higher degree of responsibility on the PC members and a higher degree of trust from Turbine, but the benfits of such a move could not be understated.
I do agree with SirValentine and Deadlock -- we will have a much better view of the experience/success of the PC from our perspective as we move forward and start to see how the discussions here translate into the game. – Andoris
==//== experiences so far with the PC...well I can say were definitely getting alot of discussions and early input in...even some stuff that has barely started to dry on the ol' whiteboard. It's alot more than I expected yet somehow not overwhelming like I it's well good.
As for the Council itself well frankly it's like a miniature DDO Forum which I think was kind of the point. I don't always agree with them and sometimes certain ideas/responses seem ludicrous or yes even possibly trolling but regardless it's usually pretty civil 'round here.
Another thing I like is the fact that it's not just "Here's a thing we want your opinion on" the devs are also keeping a sharp eye on our suggestions (we have a gen discussion section) as well as the normal forums...a decent amount of discussion has been on whats trending and whatnot. 
The only real downside to being on the council is not everything we see here will make it to Live, which is of course the point of the of the council...being able to understand that truth but I'm sure many a will be posted when the death knell is sung for this idea or that idea...on the bright side if even half the ideas were discussing here make it to live you all gonna be salivating. 
DDOs isn't dying my's just evolving and being able to watch it do so is well just great. – Failedlegend
I'd like to say that all of the player council members are handling things in a mature and professional way. Being such a diverse group, it is easy to have conflict, yet it seems to always be handled practically, rather then personally. It brings me much joy when I see my fellow council member's ideas. The way each one has his unique perspective and experience. All of the council members have passion for DDO and really care about the success of the game. I feel that the player council has incredible potential and I'm proud to be part of it. Finally I'd like to thank my fellow council members for all that was done so far, and TY to turbine for making me part of such a wonderful group! – Name withheld by request
The PC is a very diverse group of players from all aspects of DDO. Since its inception I have been very pleased to watch the members, while actively promoting their various game styles work with each other to try and enhance all the other styles of game play as well. – Name withheld by request
Thank you to everyone on the DDO Players Council who has taken the time to be a part of the process! We’ve also been gathering people’s feedback privately, and see a couple of areas where we can make the process even better. In particular, we want to make sure that Players Council members better understand the impact of their feedback. Some Council members would also like us to be more clear about our intended purpose for asking about a subject, and that’s something we are considering too (we try not to shape the discussion too much, but perhaps there’s a balance to consider in some cases.) 
Overall, the DDO team is pleased with the way things have gone with this inaugural DDO Players Council so far, and we hope you are too! Until next time.
DDO Players Council coordinator and Community Manager

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