Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Hey All!

As you all know, this weekend has brought us quite a bit of feedback regarding the STO Advisory Council. We are very thankful that everyone has taken the time to post their feedback here so that we can react to it and do what we can to provide responses to your concerns.

As the weekend comes to a close, several key members of our CS/Community Team will be reviewing all posts on this subject to collect and compile the feedback, after which they will be presenting the positive and negative response feedback to different members of the company. I may even make them create a powerpoint presentation on it. In the mean time, dev staff like Ivan and myself will do our best to respond to areas that we are comfortable speaking about.

In all honesty, at first I had the same fear that many of you are demonstrating here on the forums. When I first heard about it, I felt a bit threatened because I didn't want the feedback that my team provides to be overshadowed. The GMs and Community reps put in a ton of effort to prioritize feedback and bug fix requests, I didn't want to see that compromised.

Feedback and bugs are very important to me. The GMs and I spend a great deal of effort compiling feedback and top priority bugs to present to the developers in meetings that happen regularly. That is not going away, and is not changing in any fashion. If CS lost its ability to advocate the community's concerns, I would most certainly be devastated.

Thankfully, after speaking with other members of the company about the program, I discovered that the Advisory Committee is another great supplement to the awesome efforts that are already in place.
  • CS will still be collating player feedback and asking for enhancements and bug fixes in the areas that players want most
  • QA will continue work with players on Tribble to track down the big bugs
  • Devs will still comb the forums and participate in discussions about their area of expertise
  • Phoxe will still be representing the community in game production meetings
  • Marcom will still do their surveys and social networking programs
None of these are going away. As Ivan has stated in many of his posts, we simply want more feedback from more perspectives.

I have compiled several questions and answers that have been posted in the last couple of days. I have done my best to keep the questions quoted word for word, but I had to paraphrase the ones that were difficult to understand outside the context of the thread they were originally posted in.

Read on!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
04-03-2010, 10:25 PM
The Motivation Behind the Program

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askarr
Interesting - what's the aim here?
Ivan (Cryptic Marcom Manager): Well, the basic idea is: "We're not hearing all of our current audience nor are we hearing all of our target audience. How do we hear more?"

So, in addition to the forums, polls, surveys, calendars, engineering reports, dev posts, etc., we implemented this, "Advisory Council". Maybe the over one hundred thousand active players who never post hear might be more inclined to share their thoughts somewhere else -- anywhere else? Maybe Star Trek fans attached to other sites and clubs might find some value discussing their wishes in a place that is comfortable for them? Pretty straightforward idea: "Do more stuff for fans."

Quote:
Originally Posted by morgoth2000 View Post
So why even have a council at all? All you need to do to get all the feedback you need is to read the forums!
Ivan: That's not really accurate. We have well over a hundred thousand players that never post on the forums. To be a responsible developer, we must approach these people and listen to their feedback, too. Polls, direct e-mails, newsletters, and the Advisory Council are some ways we can better tap this segment of our player base. Even if they ultimately don't work, we have to try.

Putting the Program Together
Quote:
How were the original members chosen?
Ivan: The first batch of participants was a starting place decided upon by a social networking firm that works for our folks at Atari. They gauged interest, received responses, and settled on a decent place to start the effort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mineria
if the goal is to give them another outlet to get feedback to you, why use a third party? why not a simple feedack email or feedback form that members can use and you fill out upon cancelling?
Ivan: We have both of these things. We're just doing more, too.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
04-03-2010, 10:27 PM
How the Program Will Work

Quote:
Who is putting the program together?
Ivan: It's the same guy who did the Facebook page for us, Mot the Barber. Effort is run by a social networking group our publishers at Atari employ called DKConnect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alkem View Post
Ok, so what I understand from the extremely tolerant Ivan-Cryptic is that this 'advisory' panel is an input extension? So say someone doesn't want to post on the forums an idea they have (and I wouldn't blame them) they can go to one of these sites or individuals to get their idea/input to Cryptic.
Ivan: Pretty much.

Of course, "the sites and individuals" can grow, too. And certainly we'll be attempting other input extensions. Don't have them all planned out yet, but the more we hear from Star Trek fans and STO users, the better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paddoxx View Post
...if a person isn't comfortable posting on forums when their true identity isn't known, what makes you so sure they are going to feel comfortable talking with a person, even if that is electronically?
Ivan: What makes us sure? Nothing. But, we donít need to be sure. We need to make the effort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paddoxx View Post
If they don't want to talk on the forums, the logical viewpoint is that they would also decline to talk to someone via a more private means.
Ivan: And that means we shouldn't even try and engage them? I disagree completely. The bottom line I see is: Someone who is a Star Trek fan or a Star Trek Online fan who does not post on the forums is still reachable. We may be able to reach said fan this way. May being the operative word. If not, we'll try something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cryptic_Fan_101 View Post
What about Star Trek fans who feel overwhelmed by the forums AND the Advisory Council?

Maybe you could hire a fortune teller or voodoo priest to get their input next?
Ivan: Or, maybe we could find a better way of approaching them. Like, maybe we could speak with people who run Star Trek conventions, other Star Trek fan clubs, Star Trek exhibitions, etc. Maybe we're already doing exactly that.

Quote:
Will we see more details on the program in the near future?
Ivan: You want more details and we'll certainly provide more. This was just the quick announcement. Like many endeavors, it will grow, change and ultimately take a shape almost entirely governed by Star Trek and STO fans / players. In other words, it's malleable. We didn't formulate a specific terms of service or code of conduct, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaelinTerenes
Can members be "impeached" if the players feel that certain members are trying to push their ideas rather then what players want?
Ivan: Sure. Why not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormstryke
So how much did they pay to get a seat?
Ivan: No one pays anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormstryke
So people who don't give feedback in the forums are going to talk to one of four strangers about it? REALLY?
Ivan: Star Trek fans who feel overwhelmed by the forums and disinclined to post here may prefer speaking with other Star Trek fans in different venues, yes. This is perfectly logical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askarr
I'm intrigued by the implication that the council goes beyond STO players to the wider Star Trek community (which is fairly diverse in its strongly held opinions ). I am presuming the focus would be on the question of 'is item X sufficiently Star Trek?' rather than gameplay details?
Ivan: I'm thinking it might turn out like that, yeah. Debate Y story... Give input on Z comm. console. Could be anything, but I suspect many people who participate in the Advisory Council will want to focus more on the fiction and less on the game. That's what my gut says, anyway.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
04-03-2010, 10:29 PM
Community Suggestions for More Ways to Collect Feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirror-Master
1) If you're doing data mining and we all play the game, why not take the time to implement in-game polling? In game clearly offer rewards such as energy credits or cryptic points for taking the poll. That's how you can reach all players.
Ivan: Of course. We will absolutely implement in-game polling. It's a very good idea. This is also not an either / or scenario.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cost View Post
If you really want to get in touch with your playerbase, put something in the game that they can't miss, but won't be a pest. Something like a single yes/no/unsure/don'tcare question every once in a while.
Ivan: Oh, of course! We've done polls for our entire user base in the past and we'll do many, many more in the future. We also have regular community reporting designed to provide us with an accurate gauge of our forums and an early assessment of what our players want.

This Advisory Council is just another way of getting valuable opinions and data from people who may not be inclined to post on the forums or submit feedback to us directly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paddoxx View Post
As its been said above, no one speaks for me or anyone else?
Ivan: I understand that and I approve, but it's kind of not true. I mean, our community managers, GMs and CS reps all speak for you, right? No company can afford to have every one of its employees directly engage the entirety of its user base. It's just not possible. So... Companies assign reps in community, customer support, press relations, etc. We're certainly no different.

Really, the Advisory Council is just another way of getting more feedback from players. And maybe we'll hear from Star Trek fans who don't like or don't play STO? Who knows?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildcat84 View Post
IN GAME.
Ivan:Definitely. We'll do more in-game. It's a good idea. We already do web-based, e-mail based and forum based polling. We can definitely work on implementing some in-game polls. Maybe stuff out of the launcher, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormstryke
Cryptic should read the forums and see for themselves what the fans want.
Ivan: Of course. We do just that. And we're not going to stop, either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by morgoth2000 View Post
If the devs want to know what their fan base is thinking and calling for, all they need to do is read the forums.
Ivan: But what if we want to know more from people who don't use the forums? What if we want to hear from Star Trek fans who haven't played STO or don't like STO? What if we want to hear from editorial? Should we not read their reviews until they post on our forums?

Quote:
Originally Posted by paddoxx View Post
This is a bad idea. You're not going to be hearing from the majority of users, only the select few. Those people are going to be speaking for themselves.
Ivan: I doubt that, actually. If we do hear from a select few, it will become very apparent. It's not like we're going to hide what people tell the Advisory Council and what the Advisory Council tells you and what it tells us. It's all going to appear somewhere... Facebook, forums, third-party pages, our site. There'll be no secrecy or politicking here.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
04-03-2010, 10:30 PM
All Feedback is Equal!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askarr
I'm leery of giving specific people power over the game that effectively silences portions of the playerbase they personally disagree with. How do you intend to combat this?
Ivan: I really don't understand why so many people come to this conclusion. There's nothing to combat. We're not giving specific people power over the game that silences a different portion of the playerbase. We're just trying to listen to more people. It's not one or the other. It's both.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Askarr
The above is a lot of questions, so if I had to pick one for you to answer: why exactly is this superior to repeated surveys of the entire playerbase?
Ivan: Who says it is? Again, "in addition to." This is not in place of or better than or superior to. It's more, more, more. Cryptic is evolving. We're communicating more, we're listening more, we're reacting and implementing improvements and changes based on direct interaction with users... We want more, more, more, more, more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by P_Sutherland
and the kingon advisor is ?
Ivan: The advisory council is not speciesist. It covers the entire scope of the game, not just Federation or Klingon. In other words, it's not a role-playing clique or a specialized, narrowly focused club.


The Marcom Manager speaks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirror-Master
2) Reading between the lines, this seems to have a marketing agenda attached. So the other intent of this is to create a 'STO Fan Club' to promote STO?
Ivan: Oh, please don't read between the lines. Realistically, that's just another way of saying, "I'm making an assumption."

Certainly, we want to promote STO. What company doesn't want to promote its games? It's not a marketing agenda, though. Every person at this company wants to see the game they worked hard on promoted and successful.

But...

That's not what 's governing this effort. We have distinctions between social, community, PR and marketing. I've explained the crux of the Advisory Council a few times already, but the basic gist of it is: we have over 100,000 active players who do not post on the forums and we have a huge Star Trek fan base that has either not tried STO or does not care for STO. How can we hear from them? The Advisory Council is one such way we can begin to hear from others outside of these forums.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
04-03-2010, 10:32 PM
Please post any comments or feedback here or on the original thread, located at:

http://forums.startrekonline.com/sho...d.php?t=147393
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7 Knowledge is power
04-03-2010, 11:22 PM
Thank you for wading through the flames to get at the key issues and bring back some excellent answers.

This shows that Cryptic is working to make things better; It also shows that transparency is continuing and that the Council is an addition to the feedback systems in place already, not a substitute.

It is also a way to reach out to Trek fans, who might not be playing STO yet, and get them to try it out. Anything that grows the subscriber base helps to insure the game continues and thrives.

This type of information and openess is worth more than you may know. Acknowledging issues and facing them head-on is a good thing
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
04-03-2010, 11:47 PM
Thanks for taking the time to sift through the original thread and find all those replies. I still don't think this is a good idea but I can see the reasoning behind trying it out. I have a couple questions more about issues that have been raised over the past day since this announcement was made, but as your request, I will ask those questions in the original thread.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
04-04-2010, 12:02 AM
GM_Destra!

I actually hated this idea to be totally honest. But your post explains it all very well, the simplicity is youare just trying to open as many doors to the players/fans right? It's no more complicated than that? Nothing else changes this is a compliment to the things already happening.

I hear and understand that people think that if so many players don't use the forums, why would they suddenly feel compelled to join into this? I have run forums for large games myself, and it was never hard to get a large player base. BUT it was incredibly hard to get a large number of those payers to use the forums. I can't remember the ratio but not many people would join the forums out of a large list of players. It was frustrating but peole can be either disinterested, or actually fearful of forums period.

So it makes sense that somehow you need to reach these players right? So how about approaching some of them in game? Or maybe(as I assume you have stats on this kind of stuff) find out where they are..whether that's their favourite trek site or face book and approach them both individually(I know that's an endless task) and also en masse via polls and things that in the right(again networking sites and we can assume trek sites ) place they might be prepared to strike a vote if it's in the place/site they already visit? You use face book anyway so is this not an option along with many others?

I DO think these players can be reached outside of the forums and I think it's excellent if we manage to get their opinions in here too.

I'm sorry my typing isn't great so my questions are a bit spaced out.

Regarding the council itself, there is an email link to ask about joining and that's cool, I for one would have an interest in helping this community. But of course I won't be the only one, there are going to be a lot of people. So maybe so we don't waste time and don't feel so disappointed if we can't be a part of this council, then maybe you could do two things for us(does the skin crawly begger voice hehe):

A: Explain a little more about exactly how the council works on a personal level, and what would be expected of each council member. To give us a better idea if it is something we REALLY want to be a part of. It's going to sound "cool" to be in a council but really you need people that don't think it's cool so much as are just dedicated to this game and community right? So maybe if we had some better idea of the "role" it might put some of us off who maybe could have the wrong idea about a council members role etc.

*FOR E.G. How many people apply for the job of "gametester" and actually think that thier job is to play nice finshed games all day with not much to do? It Never crosses theer mind even that they might be getting a wireframe model to pick up another model before crashing for no apparent reason . And then writing it all down lol. It's not that those people are stupid they just are not sure what the role really entials

B: Again if possible Maybe give us a "general" idea of what kind of person/s you are looking for, I am not sure maybe some basic prerequisite's for the roll. Again it would help us know if we are definitely interested, but also to save you time we can know by some of those requirements(for the want of a better term) if we are even in a position to help in the first place. Hell it's an international game so even time could be a factor for some people..just as a tiny example.

Sorry for the length of my post, I have a habit of doing this. But could you please give my suggestions on this some thought, and also because from a personal point of view(though I am sure many might ask the same thing) I am interested but I won't write a mail until I totally understand how I can help. I might find out that I am not the right person to help.

Just figured these ideas could help.

Thanks Destra this post you made was quite comforting actually I think we were all worried we were going to "lose" something, it's nice to know all that is happening is we are gaining. Another cool step thank you.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
04-04-2010, 12:08 AM
Because it is quite a hefty post, I'm just going to summarise my proposal on what should be done to rectify the misunderstanding between Cryptic/Atari and the players:

===

Summary:

This 'council' is meant to be a PR/marketing out-reach liaison program to communities outside the STO forums. Its purpose is to gather more ideas from all sources, not just forum users or players in general.

The announcement needs to be changed, or a new announcement made, to reflect this intention.
  • Change the 'Star Trek Online Advisory Council' name into 'Star Trek Online Diplomatic Corps'.
    • Do not create any in-game presence. If there must be an in-game presence, change its location to a neutral site (preferably Drosana).

  • Change the announcement wording to more accurately reflect the intention of this development (i.e., liaison). For example:
    • "leaders and members of different Star Trek and gaming organisations, who can provide a more direct link between their communities and STO"
    • "Communities of all languages are welcome"

  • Remove links (or associations) to irrelevant sites.

  • Incorporate Zinc's transparency policy with a FAQ that provides explicit information:
    • who manages this body
    • member selection process, how to become a member
    • the function and operation of this body
    • what kind of ideas are being sought (storyline, gameplay, or both?), and how will that input be used by Cryptic

  • Post feedback received from the 'Diplomatic Corps' to the STO forums, so that everyone can discuss equally. An ambassador's 'voice' -- in the form of a forum post -- carries the same weight as any other individual player's STO forum post. Or, have Cryptic condense all 'Diplomatic Corps' feedback into regular reports, similar to the Engineering Reports.

  • Cryptic/Atari should follow-up on feedback with in-game or e-mail surveys/polls, to assure substantiated player desire (or dislike) for proposed ideas.

N.B.: Ambassadors should make it clear if their STO forum feedback post is representative of their community, or solely their own personal feedback.

===

This proposal was the result of feedback from many people, acknowledged within that thread.

Thank you for your consideration.
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