Today we unfortunately have to get a little bit more serious on the blog about a topic that involves the community, Cryptic Studios, and Neverwinter Uncensored. Currently, the community of the game is split into two factions. There’s the “Uncensored” crowd and the ones that follow the “official” platforms, Arcgames and the Subreddit mainly. As regular user and player of the game you might not even notice it, but we still believe it’s something that has to be talked about.
RNG Tests Started It All
Now what exactly is this all about? To fully understand the matter we have to go all the way back to 2014, when a group of “hardcore” players founded Uncensored. From the original cast only myself remains, but we all in some way, shape, or form clashed with the official community team and felt like we needed an independent place to talk the game without the restrictions of PWE moderated forums. I personally got banned over publishing so-called “RNG Tests” for example, which try to figure out the drop rates of certain crates, most importantly lockboxes.
[su_quote cite=”melodywhr (PWE mod back in the day)”]This information is not official and is not supported by PWE. This content was removed from the official neverwinter forums because it provides information that is potentially false and sheds a negative light on unpublished and unknown drop rates within the game.[/su_quote]
Back then moderator melodywhr made up bullshit reasons to remove the tests, and acted more like a PWE employee than someone serving in the best interest of the community. Not only did I get banned over that argument, but that jerk also tried to remove the tests from the wiki later. That’s part of the reason why we established Uncensored, and melodywhr ironically deserves some credit for helping out the community after all. Because what initially was more thought as a refugee camp for outcasts and others that were driven away from official platforms became the biggest fansite of Neverwinter. We provide daily content, develop tools, run the game’s biggest Discord, and closely work with other members of the community.
The Games Biggest Fansite Is Banned on Official Platforms?
Because of the original intent of Uncensored, we weren’t exactly close with the official community teams to begin with. And as the site grew, the rift did as well. Uncensored was always seen as villain and got gradually banned on official platforms. You can’t link any articles, or mention us. Even the words “uncensored” and “unhamstered” are filtered in some places to “honor” us. Funnily the more restrictions were made on other platforms, the more users felt like they had to join the uncensored alternative.
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This currently contributes to a situation where nearly all significant talk (besides direct exchange with developers, bug reporting, and preview feedback) has moved away from official platforms. If at all, stuff is getting re-posted there, the amount of exclusive content is slim to non-existent. It also means that visitors of said platforms currently do not have access to the best available resources for the game, which is a shame. New players probably partially judge the “healthiness” of a game based on its message board for example. By doing so, they are unable to even remotely grasp the scope of the information and activity that the community has to offer, might conclude that the game is “dead”, and move on. If the current trend continues, this will only get worse.
At several points over the years we tried to get some talk going on how to solve this issue. Unfortunately all we heard was how Uncensored had to change, and little about how we as a community can do our best to blossom. We did however exclusively get in touch with volunteer moderators and figured it might be worth a shot to contact someone within the studio directly. Julia is the first Community Manager to actually work at Cryptic, and there’s a new official community e-mail address, so we tried our luck.
The result: We sent an e-mail on April 24th, and are still waiting for an answer… Since then we’ve sent two follow-ups / reminders through e-mail and one through Discord, but all we got was the initial acknowledgement that the request was received and will be reviewed. At this point though, we doubt it will happen. Either there’s no genuine interest to tear down walls and provide the community with the best possible environment, or there’s not enough resources for appropriate community management. Either way, this was our shot, and it seems to have failed. I’ve attached the full e-mail we’ve sent to Julia below by the way. We felt like it was a reasonable and honest request, but that way you all can judge for yourselves.
Uncensored Will Always Serve the Community First
We had a lively discussion within the team how to deal with the situation. Not getting an answer was extremely frustrating to be honest. It’s not even about an actual solution as much, but they didn’t even care enough to give us any update on the process. If they are busy and need more time? Of course, just talk to us. But at some point, silence speaks volumes.
Since we are banned on their sites, it would be perfectly legitimate now to ban any resources and talk from Arcgames and the Subreddit on Uncensored as well. You know, let’s give them the war they pretend to be fighting anyway. But at the end of the day, we have always acted in the best interest of the community, and will continue to do so. If we became them, then formats like our Community Watch, Weekender, or Bag of Tricks wouldn’t be possible. So don’t fret. We’ll still pick up all posts from all sources regardless. Uncensored will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date and extensive coverage you’ll find for the game.
One thing is for certain now though: We won’t contact anyone official again. If others change their mind, we’re not hard to find. In the meantime it was important to us to let you guys know that walls are not built on our site of the border these days.
Here’s the full e-mail we sent to firstname.lastname@example.org on April, 24th
[su_box title=”Community Divide; Bridging the Gaps” radius=”0″]Greetings all!
We are contacting you today about a lingering issue that in our opinion is severely distracting and dividing the community of the game. We personally think this needs to be officially addressed by and discussed within the company, because we’re past a point where there’s any hope that the two conflicting sides can work things out on their own. The schism hurts the community and has became a situation, to the opinion of many, that can’t be ignored. Before we continue let us say that we hope this is the appropriate channel to do so. Otherwise we’d like to kindly request this e-mail to get forwarded to the appropriate authority and for you to notify us as to whom we should be approaching with this.
So who are “we”, and who are the two sides? In December 2014 a couple of players (from the original team only “j0Shi” remains) founded “Neverwinter Uncensored” (NWO:UN). Currently NWO:UN is the game’s largest fansite, serving thousands of Neverwinter players per day (blog stats: https://i.imgur.com/MLBavkO.png, daily site stats 2018: https://i.imgur.com/HiqJa1h.png). We provide daily articles on our blog (https://blog.nwo-uncensored.com/), host a massage board (https://www.nwo-uncensored.com/phpBB3/), develop unique and helpful tools for the game, like our Character Simulator (https://www.nwo-uncensored.com/phpBB3/app.php/nwountools/character/simulator), and operate the biggest Discord for the game with up to 300+ online players and over 1500 members (https://discord.gg/SJrtYnY). We are additionally closely working together with the streaming and Youtube community and trying to promote their content as much as possible. This makes sure they reach a bigger audience and have a greater chance of success.
For the historical context and the name, the site was founded after a dispute over the publication of the lockbox drop chances on the official wiki in 2014. We have posted the results of opening a very large number of lockboxes on the preview server, a common (and legal) practice in MMOs. Those test results were edited out by an official forum moderator, in the premise that the results put the company in a bad light. The editing combined with the complete ban of discussing this matter on the forums led to the creation of a site that aimed at allowing a more free discussion.
The site, starting as a small project discussing “hot” topics, quickly drew a lot of attention within the community. Fast forward three years and we’ve actually grown into the largest Neverwinter blog it is today. NWO:UN became a breeding ground for theorycrafters and a place for the most dedicated players to meet and discuss topics relating to the game. We are now a team of long-time players and while only a few appear as active contributors, all are invaluable for the information we provide to the community.
Back in the day NWO:UN, as the name might suggest, also served as a “refugee camp” for outcasts, for those that, just like us, had clashed with the official community team and needed another place to freely discuss the game. Unfortunately, several users took things too far, harassing and doxing members of the community team. Those were isolated cases by specific users, and as a result we took prompt action by deleting the posts and updating the rules. We made it clear that that’s where we draw the line, and in no way, shape or form condone said activities. These incidents however led to some personal animosity getting added to the conflict. As one member of the mod team put it: “Bridges are burned”.
The rift continued to grow wider. Both because we put information and the community over the terms of service of the game (datamining, automated crawl engines, exploit reporting), but also because we still welcome those that clash with the forum moderation over at Arcgames. We do allow critical conversations and players very much appreciate that. As we opened ourselves up to the community, Arcgames on the contrary became more and more strict over time. It’s important to note that the more restrictions were made, the more said restrictions encouraged users to join NWO:UN. Our site by design is reactionary. The more issues there are on the official platforms, the bigger and more radical discussions at our forum become. Not everyone agrees with every aspect of the site (many are against any form of exploits for example), but join because they just feel exasperated with the official moderation.
This illustrates why NWO:UN and official platforms weren’t exactly close. Over the years, more and more rules were implemented on Arcgames and the Subreddit to prevent NWO:UN from spreading its stuff. This led to a community split that is becoming increasingly unhealthy for the game. The complete lockout of NWO:UN from official platforms contributed to a situation where nearly all significant talk (besides direct exchange with developers, bug reporting, and preview feedback) has moved away from official platforms. If at all, stuff is getting re-posted there, the amount of exclusive content is slim to non-existent. It also means that visitors of said platforms currently do not have access to the best available resources for the game, which is a shame. New players probably partially judge the “healthiness” of a game based on its message board for example. By doing so, they are unable to even remotely grasp the scope of the information and activity that the community has to offer and might conclude that the game is “dead”, and move on. If the current trend continues, this will only get worse.
That the moderation team tries to shield users from NWO:UN and to largely control the flow of information sometimes reaches bizarre heights. Redundant resources are created to compete with stuff that we already do for example. Nobody needs more fracturing, much less only to assert dominance. NWO:UN supporting guilds are being removed from lists, guides and builds from other sites (like mmominds.com) banned in case they link to us, and there’s apparent prejudice towards players that also post on NWO:UN. All this doesn’t happen for the betterment of the community, nor are there any rules broken. Even the words “uncensored” and “unhamstered” are filtered in some places to “honor” our site. Additionally content creators on Youtube and other players are actively pressured to not include any mentions of NWO:UN in their material. Are you even aware what your moderating team is doing behind the scenes? Have you instructed them to do so, is this in line with company policy?
Talking about the Subreddit and PE Discord: The status of those is an issue as well. While not “officially” official, they are all but official because of their rules and set of mods. It’s where devs post and can be found. But at the same time there is no oversight, nor higher authority to contact. This is amplified to an extreme by the mods subjectivity. There’s a decent chance that if you get on the wrong side of a mod you’ll get banned from all official Neverwinter platforms, as this has happened before and thus is likely to happen again. All without any practical way to appeal to anyone who is actually involved with the game and the community.
The net result: The current perception is that the mods lack objectivity, often act unprofessional, and largely control what happens without the fear of being held accountable. They often use their powers as a hammer instead of a surgical knife and NWO:UN also sees itself as a watchdog of sorts. Example: A couple days ago a well-known content creator complained why he doesn’t get featured, but others are. He was contacted by a member of the staff and told that with his “track record”, they couldn’t post his videos. Again: Are you aware that your mods effectively decide, largely based on their own bias, what content for your game is allowed on official platforms? Are you fine with that? In some cases surely content simply isn’t appropriate to be promoted, but in other cases there’s a least suspicion of personal bias and grudge.
That’s why our goal is to offer a place where discussions can be held that are not always appropriate to the official forums, but more than that generally enrich the community with better information and resources. Currently that’s not the case, and we feel that it’s not healthy to the community as whole. More and more players choose to not post on official forums, you can surely check the activity compared to earlier years. Instead quality content is moved over to other platforms like Google Docs, MMOMinds, Youtube, or NWO:UN. The community is losing a lot of its potential, new players are turned off, maybe away, and long-term players are getting increasingly frustrated that they have to work through layers of restrictions and animosity that don’t make too much sense in their eyes. Breaking the current situation is beneficial to everyone. It would revitalize the official platforms, help Youtube and Twitch content creators, and would show that we first and foremost care about the betterment of the game knowledge and its community.
We hope to start a dialog to create a better overall experience for players. Any discussion in this matter is progress and very needed at this point in time. Because it’s an important topic to us, we do have to make sure this is treated as seriously as we think it is. Therefore we would urge you to at least contact us through this e-mail within the next seven days as a confirmation that you have received it and acknowledge the situation. Otherwise we would have to assume that it’s intentionally being ignored.
The NWO:UN Team[/su_box]
Neverwinter UN:Blogged is always looking for writers to contribute to the blog. If you are an active player and search for a way to spread your opinions, analysis, diaries or reviews to more than 50,000 regular visitors, then don’t hesitate and get in touch with us on our contact page or message board! We are currently especially looking for console and PVP content, but that’s not exclusive. There is no frequency requirement, you post how often you want.