Should PWE Consider Something like the Daybreak Insider Program?

Unless you play one of Daybreak’s games, you probably don’t know that the studio has just started a so-called “insider” program. Actually you might not even know Daybreak Games at all. It’s a publisher and developer that among other titles runs the popular zombie survival game “H1Z1” and the EverQuest MMORPG series. Their insider program sounds like a volunteer QA job that comes with minor ingame incentives. I feel it’s an interesting concept that’s also worth discussing for the Neverwinterverse.

Neverwinter’s Efforts Weren’t Properly Maintained so Far

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Cryptic developers interact with the community on multiple ways. Most of it happens on the official message board, but you can also contact or forward stuff to them using other channels. Neverwinter’s efforts on extending on that in the past have been kind of unsuccessful. The game has seen two alpha tests for Stronghold PVP and Castle Never and obviously maintains a preview shard. But they also tried to install a “Class Feedback Reporter System” that helped compile a list of useful threads, ideas and feedback, and former CM StrumSlinger ran his own bug hunting task force. Both efforts unfortunately never made it, mainly because they weren’t properly maintained.

While you can easily reason that PWE is lacking the resources to pull it off, I still like the idea of giving player feedback a professional look. The mentioned efforts from individuals in the community team have clearly failed though. So if you want to establish something, it needs to come from the company. Which is why I think an official program with official rewards like Daybreak’s is the way to go.

Does Neverwinter Need an Insider Program?

Which begs a second question: Does the game even need something like an insider program? It certainly has definite up and downsides. On the one hand, why not take advantage of the ideas within the community? Some players are with the game longer than most devs. On the recent maintenance stream Environment Artist Patrick Poage admitted most of them weren’t around when the Astral Resonator exploit happened for example. So might the players actually be the most experienced asset the devs have? That’s certainly a possibility.

On the other hand, giving players development power comes with risks. The Class Feedback Reporter System already faced accusations that some in charge followed their own agenda. The devs are those that make decisions, but advising comes with a certain influence. It can be hard to find truly objective testers, if that’s even possible at all. Examples like the October Bugfix Month also show that players can get involved in other, less official, ways.

Some may take offense at the fact that insiders receive ingame loot as well. It certainly can’t be gameplay relevant stuff. If we’re talking about mount skins, stuff that the volunteer mods get as well, then there’s no issue. But handing out lockboxes or other something like that can get you into trouble even though you might think it’s justified for the effort.

So yeah, you probably would need to be very clear about rewards and the topics and decisions players participate in. But if that’s all sorted out, why the hell not? Neverwinter has great minds and theorycrafters that certainly would be willing to become an “insider”.

What’s your take on the Daybreak Insider Program? Is it something that PWE should adopt or do you see too much potential for drama? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

3 thoughts on “Should PWE Consider Something like the Daybreak Insider Program?

  • November 1, 2017 at 11:37 am

    “Efforts from individuals in the community team to get players more involved have clearly failed.” That statement isn’t self-evident. In my view, knowledgable players are more involved than they have been in a long time. It’s not perfect (nothing ever is), but “clearly failed” doesn’t resonate with me at all. I totally agree things can always be made better and would love to hear specific solutions.

    If you want actual change, the article has to make people at Cryptic feel it’s a good idea. Leading with a false claim will make the folks that can actually make stuff happen view the rest of the article with suspicion, if they even read past that line. If you just want to get clicks from people that are already anti-Cryptic, mission accomplished I guess.

    • November 1, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Hey, thanks for the feedback! Reworded the article to make it more clear that “failed” was referring to the bug hunting force and class feedback reporter system, not all efforts from the community team. Cheers!

  • November 2, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    For me, the best reward is fixing problems that shouldn’t be there. That improves the quality of the game and the experience of the players, whether new or veteran. I’m very happy with the October bugfix and am only disappointed that it took so long to address some of these issues. Having a responsive block mechanic on a GF or OP is worth more than any mount skin (well, maybe Tenser’s or a few other of the Legendaries would be worth more). Allowing player feedback increases the perspective of those looking for issues. 10,000 players looking for issues will spot more than 5 coders looking at the same material, and will certainly look at it in ways the coders never imagined. Why not make use of free labor? Even more incentive should come from that the feedback comes from potential customers.

    Combatting bias and self-interest can be challenging, and may require more consensus in identifying issues, which is why I would keep the reporting aperture larger rather than smaller and minimize the rewards if any were offered. You then have to filter out the chatter from the value.

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