What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of them

One of the challenges the owners constantly face is trying to learn what the hell most of our players actually want. Sometimes we think we know. I think most of us, myself utterly included, fall into this fantasy that we can accurately gauge the wants of the players, most of them, by simply watching, talking and listening here and there, and that this method will somehow be immune to our own personal bias. Maybe it is, but statistically speaking, we're smoking crack.

We never really know if something is an actual problem for a lot of the players or if it's just two dudes on the message board.

I'm tired of not knowing. I'm tired of the same old stances, supported by little more than anecdotal evidence. What do most of us really think about magic items? Do we care about pcs using constructs. Is level bloat a problem. Should we keep trying to change the rules, or just leave them alone for a few years? Is the message board even close to representative regarding any of this?

I use to work as a researcher for a bank and for the state of VT. We conducted survey studies with thousands of participants. By "we" I mean the post office and me.

It wasn't that hard when I had the time to do it all day. I've decided that if I can get a little help from players, and if all the owners are willing to pass the surveys out and then subsequently collect and mail then to me, I will plug the data in and post the results.

Sounds simple, right?

It can be, but it requires some key components. First, we need to know what to ask. Second, it has to be limited in size. One piece of paper, two pages, front to back, is all I can feasibly do, but we can cover a lot in there, if we ask the right questions.

So, let's start with topics.

What do we want to know about? Post all the things you think are important to learn about, with regard to the opinions of the Alliance player base, and for improving the overall quality of our game. What are the most pressing issues and primordial debates about? 

I'll collect it all from here, or you can email me your thoughts (alliancedeadlandsnh@gmail.com) and I'll see what I can construct.

If any of you have ever had to construct a survey, you probably know that lucifer doth dwell in the details. Once we've got the topics selected, I could use some help building the questions. If anyone is interested in contributing, please email me. 

Gary

ps. I'll try to get you some dragon stamps if you help me.
 
pps. If someone posts a topic, no need to repeat it, and no need to argue over it. You are a sample size of one. I want more. That's the problem.
 

RiddickDale

Squire
Moderator
Public Relations Committee
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Gary,

I've got your back on this. Let me know what help I (or my PR committee) can give you.

I would suggest that we follow up the surveys with skype focus groups to try to drill down and get more detail to some of the responses.

My questions:

What do people think about the damage bloat in the game?

What do people feel about magic item proliferation/usage?

How deadly should the game be? (we might need several questions to hone in on this one)

I would want to hear from players of low level characters about whether or not the "high level game" impedes their fun.

I'd also like to find a way to objectively discuss the regional variation in combat speed... but that might be beyond the scope of a paper survey.

Stephen
 

Lurin

Duke
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

RiddickDale said:
Gary,

I've got your back on this. Let me know what help I (or my PR committee) can give you.

I would suggest that we follow up the surveys with skype focus groups to try to drill down and get more detail to some of the responses.

My questions:

What do people think about the damage bloat in the game?

What do people feel about magic item proliferation/usage?

How deadly should the game be? (we might need several questions to hone in on this one)

I would want to hear from players of low level characters about whether or not the "high level game" impedes their fun.

I'd also like to find a way to objectively discuss the regional variation in combat speed... but that might be beyond the scope of a paper survey.

Stephen
From a survey stand point most of these questions are no nos. Asking 'What do you think about damage bloat' will yield bias results because the question already suggests that there is too much damage out there.

at any rate, I'll be interested in the results, our recent web poll from SoMN yielded results that suggested that people wanted everything, about evenly (literally it was amazing the split was so balanced)
 

aara

Scholar
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Gary -

I do stats for a living, let me know if you need any help compiling data.

Kelly
 

Octaine

Artisan
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Gary,

Great idea, getting started is going to prob be the hardest part. If you need any help I will be willing to. Heck I look at data for most of my day.
 

Mike Ventrella

Duke
Owner
Moderator
HQ Staff
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Good idea, but I also agree that the questions need to be as unbiased and open ended as possible, and players should be allowed to respond with written answers and not just "agree" or "disagree".
 

RiddickDale

Squire
Moderator
Public Relations Committee
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

I know that those questions shouldn't go on a survey as is. The man was asking for topics and I gave them to him. Once we get to the drafting stage we can all figure out HOW to ask the questions. I've done my share of survey design too.

<3.

Stephen
 
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Do you play for Role-play, story-lines, combat, stuff accumulation, see friends, other?

Do you play one chapter exclusively, one chapter primarily, multiple chapters?

Have you ever served as a staff position for a chapter? What was it? Did you get something positive from the experience?

What was your favorite experience playing Alliance?

What was your least favorite experience playing Alliance?

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

If you could keep one thing the same no matter what, what would it be?
 

Mike Ventrella

Duke
Owner
Moderator
HQ Staff
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Keep in mind that the results will probably be similar to what we see at our Owners' Symposiums, which is that there will be no consensus. Things that one person will feel is an obvious and blatant problem with the game will be seen by another as one of the game's greatest strengths.

I worry that a survey may stir things up, too. While I want to see comments, I worry that players will say things like "Look, 51% say they want more treasure on monsters, no permanent death, and less restrictive costume requirements so if you don't do that, you are not listening to the players!" and if we respond with "But that's not the kind of game we want to run" it will cause all kinds of arguments we don't need.

I mean, the majority is not always right, and one of the biggest problems I have had over the years with the Owners is that every single one has a different view of what the game will be, and this has often made our game kind of aimless. Rules get passed one year and then removed the next year based on what the majority of Owners think, and I believe it makes our product suffer in the long run ...

I may not be expressing this the best I can, but the more I consider it, the more I am worried that we will just be taking the kind of arguments we have among the Owners to a bigger audience, and making things worse. At the same time, I sincerely want to hear what a lot of players want to say about the game (and not just the small percentage that is active on these forums).

The more open-ended survey along the lines of what Dan posted above is more of what I'd like to see.
 

Davion

Scholar
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

I have rewritten Riddick Dale's questions into more appropriate questions.

Do you believe there should be a maximum amount of damage a player can do?

If so, what number do you feel is a good maximum?

How common do you think magic items should be?

Do you think it should be possible to make permanent magic items?

In the space of 10 seconds, how many times can a player hit you before you feel like they are going too fast?

For the following statements, say "agree" or "disagree"

Permanent Death is an important part of our game.

Permanent Death should be more common.

There should be duration extenders between 1 and 5 years.

Permanent magic items are an important part of the game.

Magic items should be able to be extended again, although at a higher cost each time they are extended.

I enjoy playing with the high level players.

I feel included by the high level players.

I feel like I cannot participate with the high level players.


Fearless Leader, that's why you keep the survey results secret until you feel you can share the information.
 

RiddickDale

Squire
Moderator
Public Relations Committee
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

My vote is for not fussing about the results until we get them.

There is no sense paying interest on a loan we haven't even taken off yet. The idea is less than 2 hours old.

The funny thing about not getting a consensus is that that answers questions in and of itself. It means that there is no resounding movement among the population that says we need to change something.

That's the beauty of things.

I would think that the ideal survey would contain BOTH open ended and closed questions. We need comments, but we also need hard data to work with. That's why I wanted to follow up with focus groups afterwards. That's where we can get to the meat and potatoes of peoples comments.

Stephen
 

aara

Scholar
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Fearless Leader said:
I worry that a survey may stir things up, too. While I want to see comments, I worry that players will say things like "Look, 51% say they want more treasure on monsters, no permanent death, and less restrictive costume requirements so if you don't do that, you are not listening to the players!" and if we respond with "But that's not the kind of game we want to run" it will cause all kinds of arguments we don't need.
So in cases like that where it's 51%, that might be a majority, but, statistically it's likely not a significant result based on the likely allowed error percentages that would come from surveying a randomly selected group within the population.

Why don't we focus on the places where we see ONLY the outright majority and not something that is statistically irrelevant? If 76% of players say they hate the mechanics of stun limb, then perhaps we need to focus on that (as an example). Sure, results will be ambiguous in some cases, but isn't it better to HAVE the data than to continue to speculate on it. It's all about the interpretation once it's collected - what needs to be learned from the players and what do we take from it.

Could it be used to strengthen some positions, sure, but that isn't the point. The point is to take the pulse of the player base and to make sure that they, the customers are getting the results that they pay for. It's simple customer service, give the customers what they want & they stay. Alliance isn't the only company with this product, we work very hard to attract new players, but what do we do to get people to stay, how do we get people back that left?

Maybe that's a direction to take it, as well. I guess the thing that needs to be determined is what is it that we want to learn? "Why do you stay with the game?" or "Do you think Dragon's Breath should be Flame storm? "
 

aara

Scholar
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

RiddickDale said:
I would think that the ideal survey would contain BOTH open ended and closed questions. We need comments, but we also need hard data to work with. That's why I wanted to follow up with focus groups afterwards. That's where we can get to the meat and potatoes of peoples comments.
Agreed - that's why many organizations use the scale from "Not Important" to "Very Important"... it gives some spectrum to answers, while avoiding the annoying, time consuming task of data mining textual answers.
 
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Yea any sort of serious/through survey will need to go through several revisions to make sure that the question are also being asked in an unbiased manner...

For example "only" asking if players have issues with the high level game is only going to show answers to a higher or smaller degree whether or not players have issues with a higher level game. You would also want to balance those questions with questions about whether or not players enjoy a lower level game, or less affects in the game ext ext.

There are a hundred and one details to control for and important details to gather such as what is the average number of years a player filling out this survey has played for. You may want to group the responses in 1-2 year players, 2-5 year players and 5+ year players (or different groups depending).

Furthermore I don't think its necessary to panic about what might be the result of a survey like this, because the reality is that Alliance (and you Mike) have always been very clear that it sets out to run a certain "type" of game. If the kind of game some players want is t-shirts and shorts, all magic everywhere items and tons of treasure on everything (to be extreme) its fine to say that's not the type of game the owners, or the rules want to run and suggest those players look for another game out there. Goodness knows there is certainly a large number of larps out there these days! :)
 

RiddickDale

Squire
Moderator
Public Relations Committee
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Correct.

So now that we've established and then re-established that this is a "good thing"... lets give the man more topics.

Stephen
 

Michiko

Adept
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

I just want to re-re-establish that this is a good thing.

Topic: Circle one
Ninjas - The game needs more of them. (Strongly Agree) (Strongly Disagree)

Seriously though, I think this is awesome and would be willing to help out.

Serious Topic Suggestion:

Rules simplifcation vs. flavor.
 

aara

Scholar
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

I'm curious about the scope mostly - is the intent to ask anyone in the database or only someone that's played in the last {insert arbitrary timeframe here}? I think we'd get an interesting subsection if "retired players" were surveyed as to why they haven't played, I realize it isn't as simple as a "topic" but the scope is important for most of the questions I know I'd find most interesting.

Sure everyone wants to know if high magic is well liked or if spirit forge should be removed from the game, but I'd personally love to know what keeps people coming back & what keeps people FROM coming back.

Is it the people, is it the plot, is it the rules, costs, personal reasons? We'd likely get a lesser response (unless responses were given some sort of "we miss you" credit or something, lol)

I guess based on my personal experiences, I'm a bit more interested in motivations and macro issues than the more detailed rules and gameplay questions (not that they aren't important, but my curiosity sways in that direction).
 

jpariury

Duke
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Let's pretend we all get on a bus together. We all throw in our ten cents and vote on where we want to go; let's say, Disneyworld. Now we need to pick a bus driver. We all vote for Stephen, because hey, we think he's got good map-reading skills. Hell, maybe he doesn't, but he knows a guy, Dan, who's good with it, and let's him pick out the route.

So, here we are, on our bus, and we come to a crossroads. We can go straight, we go right, we can go left. In a sane world, we'd let Stephen pick because, hell, he's the bus driver. But this is the world of Alliance. So, instead, we all take a vote. Maybe only a few of us take a vote. But either way, we vote on whether or not we turn or go straight or stop and buy coffee. And we keep trundling on. Then someone else, I dunno, David (not that one, the other one) says "Hey, wouldn't it be neat if we stopped off at South of The Border first?" and he gets a bunch of us to all go "Heck yeah!". But on the way, we find another chance to turn, and we have to take another vote. Some people think I-95 is still the way to go - it's a straight shot. But it's I-95, so you know there's going to be a lot of traffic, and hey, why not jump off at 301 south of Lumberton? Sure, it's a bit more distance, but it's all farmland and forests, and no one uses it much anyways, so we'll save time based on speed alone.

But then Sean voices an objection to driving on roads that are prime numbers, and we have to pull off on the side of the road and explain to him that it's not really a prime number (43*7=301) and now we need to change the tires. But we can't just change the tires. We have to vote first. A - do we want the tires changed?, B - what brand of tires do we want to buy? , C - are they made out of the right color of cloth?, and D - shouldn't we define what exactly we mean by "tire"? So, eventually, we get tires, but realize that people just aren't making the ones we used before anymore, so now we have to travel in a Winnebago. But Scott doesn't like Winnebagos. They're big, they're ugly, and he once sat in a seat in a Winnebago and it poked him right between T11 and T12, and he swore off Winnebagos for the rest of his life. "Hell, now we're switching to a Winnebago just because we need new tires?!?" he says.

Meanwhile, I'm in the back of the bus with my mouse ears on, watching The Little Mermaid for the ninetieth time.

I'm all for voting on whether we want to go to Disneyworld, Islands of Adventure, or South Beach, but once we know, can we just give Stephen the keys and trust that he'll get us there? If it takes longer than five days, screw it, we can get a new driver then.
 
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

LOL that is amazing. Yes that makes perfect sense...

Also there are just plain a lot of david's... ;)
 

RiddickDale

Squire
Moderator
Public Relations Committee
Re: What do our players really want? Let's ask them, all of

Less metaphors involving group vacations... more topics lol.

This isn't about votes. Its about voice. Those are two distinct things.
 
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