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Author Topic: Discord Discussion on Public Relations  (Read 3358 times)

Gmork

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Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« on: January 04, 2022, 06:16:35 am »
Zarakul ó Today at 3:26 AM
In regards to the 12/30-31'st events on the Discord, has there been any mobilization or clarification on what is expected to happen? I know one of the critiques was that there are a lot of issues that don't get discussed in a public manner either due to a perceived lack of safety on this Discord.  And not a lot has really changed on the feel side as far as I can tell, outside of being down a few players. Has anyone touched base with affected player(s) that are still active/interested to see what next steps forward look like to make sure they know that they have a voice and an impact?

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 9:35 AM
Not much time has passed for any real change in feeling to happen, such perceptions (right or wrong) need time to change. Things we have implemented since the start of the server to help such issues are systems like mod mail so the team can all see the interactions between plays and dm's which reduces instances of players saying something and it not getting passed on to the rest of the team or individual dm's giving information or advice that might not be in line with the teams vision. The issue tracker is also a big step for this as it shows exactly what reported game issues are being worked on and/or fixed as well as all the different suggestion channels we now have..(cont.)

@Zarakul
In regards to the 12/30-31'st events on the Discord, has there been any mobilization or clarification on what is expected to happen? I know one of the critiques was that there are a lot of issues that don't get discussed in a public manner either due to a perceived lack of safety on this Discord.  And not a lot has really changed on the feel side as far as I can tell, outside of being down a few players. Has anyone touched base with affected player(s) that are still active/interested to see what next steps forward look like to make sure they know that they have a voice and an impact? (edited)

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 9:43 AM
As for the reaching out part of your question I did try and follow up on things that were said but I could get no names or logs of players and their issues and/or interactions with dm's. I did find that most of these referenced issues were coming from several years ago in v1 of the setting. We had a larger team then and we had no mod mail or any other ways to keep track of all issues going on. I can not find solid proof of a dm mistreating players, however a number of old dm's were removed during that time for bad behavior and other actions which can hurt a server.
[9:44 AM]
Other than that, there is not much more we can do.
[9:47 AM]
I hope this answers your question

thurgood ó Today at 10:50 AM
@Zarakul We requested a sharing of knowledge, none was shared. There's not a lot that can be done in a vacuum.  if anyone has knowledge of how to move forward I think we would be open to hearing it

2

Zarakul ó Today at 1:25 PM
I see.

Please, forgive my mistrust when I see an analog of 'we have investigated ourselves and found no wrong doing,' being used. What you were given was in confidence and, while I respect that you hold more information about what you were given than I, I personally cannot verify. If you would feel comfortable sharing what you were given with myself and, by extension, the server at large, we could perhaps see what the alleged problems were, what measures were taken, if any, to rectify the situation, and what the aftermath has been since. If we see that there's a pattern of problems that have gone unresolved, we can see which ones. I find it rarely has to do with numbers and mechanics, but the handling of a situation. Maybe we can move together from a base of equality in standing and knowledge, as players and Staff/DMs.

As such, if a Staff Member/DM would be so kind as to use the here or everyone command, I would like to offer the following to the current playerbase:

If you, or anyone who you know that has played on Netheril: Age of Magic and/or Netheril: Age of Discovery, has encountered issues in @Vyd (Durandal) 's post ( ModMail being used to start discussions and raise concerns that ultimately go nowhere, targeted abuse from one or multiple Staff Members/DMs, Story DMs no longer being in connection with players as for story lines and server decisions, active Staff/DM intervention in roleplay that may have gone as far as to break the server's own rules and non-consensually ended a player's character, active efforts to silence and delegitimize player concerns, and a noted pattern of one or all of the above. ) and you would like to share your story(ies) with the public but would like a sense of anonymity and/or community support, please send your concerns to me, a trusted person, and/or this public chat if you feel comfortable in doing so.

I will do my best efforts to collect appropriate data and provide a briefing so that both the Staff/DMs and the players can get what everyone is concerned with: The Big Picture.

Staff/DMs, if you would prefer that I drop this uninvited investigation, please voice your concerns as you would like.
[1:29 PM]
As time is always a matter of the essence and a sensible concern, the latest I will be able to accept information would be the end of January 6th at Midnight CST so that I can make a post on January 7th at roughly 5:30 PM CST. (edited)

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 1:55 PM
I don't mind you doing this. If people want to tell you their stories with corroborating evidence  (chat logs and or screenshots) But there are 2 things I want to add here. Things that happened in past versions, especially ones that happened years ago and in times where we had a different team,  really have no baring any more on this iteration. So much has changed for the better that doing so would only drag up issues that no longer have relevance and will do nothing good. Things relevant to our server now and since the start of our open Beta for version 2 are more then welcome.
Secondly, to put this into words that you used: Please, forgive my mistrust when I see an analog of  'Oh, I'm impartial and can judge this with an open view' being suggested. How are you going to handle this better then we have? What are you going to do with hearsay and 'he said, she said'. How will you go about dealing with some that say 'X is favored by the DM's. I know it. It's not fair' with out knowing what X has done to earn anything they have or even just a perceived favoritism that is not even accurate in any way? For example recently some one said a player was a DM favorite because of things that player had said. Things that were not true or even grounded in any reality. But it was perceived as favoritism. How will you handle things like that?

Zarakul ó Today at 2:20 PM
I would like to point out that, while you did have a different and larger DM team in version one, there are a number of staff that have not changed since before then. If a concern was brought up pertaining to version one that has still not been addressed, that may be further reasoning as to why the playerbase has to come its current state and why there is a perception of distrust. I would also love to come across problems that have been mentioned and solved, as I don't feel it fair to Staff Members/DMs who may have earned praise without previously hearing it.

How am I going to handle this? I, as I'd like to make clear, have no power here. I have no claim to stake, no benefit to yield, and nothing to win in either case. Of course, I may have a bias and I'm sure it's clear that I believe that players may have been pushed to this current point. Whether or not that is true, what I will provide you should give you information enough to address other concerns, rebuild trust, open communication, and re-evaluate just what is going on with a more cohesive lens.

I will not be providing unfounded points that I cannot back up, so I do ask for your trust in at least that. If I am just given a wave of "this Staff Member/DM is X because Y" and there's no hard proof, I will at least let the entire team and playerbase know that that is a perceived problem. That way there's the opportunity for people to come forward to clarify/add proof in public if they so choose and the Staff/DM team can dispel any untrue myths that may be mixed in the negative feelings and associations. Public image, even if it's not the greatest factor, still accounts for how people approach, recommend, and experience their time here. If a person has done something worthy of being rewarded, I'm sure that person would love to be acknowledged again in an explanation for how/why they were rewarded.

In conclusion, I would like to provide my current review of the server in as much as I can so that you understand my own, current perspective:

This server has been a labor of love and it has been made very clear that that is the case. The artistry is of high quality. There are a wide array of zones and reasons to visit them. The scripted quests, while once a very rough idea, have been refined into integral cogs of the server that can provide structure and rewards for players both solo and in teams. I, personally, abhor application-limited options as I believe they are an opportunity for misuse, real or perceived, and believe better options exist to prevent abuse. That said, I am glad to see that there exists a wide variety of options to choose from as far as character creation, items, spells, etc. With all of the positive that I have encountered, It also comes with something that contrasts heavily with the passion and love visible in the product: distrust, fear, and neglect. There have been multiple occasions where there has been an issue, it was poorly handled, people left, the issue was either left alone or fixed (too little too late or without community involvement, causing its own set of issues), resentment carried over but hope keeps people around in pockets. My personal view is that, until community concerns are addressed and a player base can be re-established, it is a nice amusement park but is ultimately a disappointment in terms of a role play server. (edited)

deltaTime ó Today at 2:26 PM
My opinion is not representative of the team as a whole to the best of my knowledge, but I'd rather you just play the game and enjoy yourself rather than try to spin a web and crack the case. I think that an open dialogue = good idea. Players getting in the middle where they're not needed = not

Zarakul ó Today at 2:27 PM
I appreciate your opinion and I wish I could agree that an open dialogue could occur without something like this taking place. But, think of it this way: If there's nothing to crack and no threads for a web, it'll be a positive showing that things have changed for the better and people just haven't been here to see/experience it.
[2:27 PM]
Perhaps it'll drive up more players so that we can have more people to enjoy this content with!

deltaTime ó Today at 2:28 PM
Nah. It's drama for no reason. Just play the game. We don't need a class action lawsuit. If you want active and interested DMs, don't bring this kind of stress imo.

Zarakul ó Today at 2:28 PM
I appreciate but disagree with your opinion and welcome any further dialogue.

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 2:30 PM
What are you looking for here Zarakul? Transparency was asked for, and we are already moving ahead with that. I have gone and done what you suggested last week and tried to follow up on things. We have suggestion channels and treads and a mod mail that people can use to have monitored discussions and give feedback and even ask for stories to be run for them. We believe we are open-minded to suggestions and try to give logical explanations as to why we may or may not do something. So what is it you are wanting to achieve here? Based on your communication, it seems like you already have something in mind that will fix problems, so why not just state it rather than initiate a hunt for things that are maybe significantly outdated or provably false? Would you like monthly updates? Roadmaps? Even more surveys (we did one big one and have used it to make many changes). Do you want us to give out meta-information on plots and player actions and other intrigues so you can see behind the stage?

Zarakul ó Today at 2:39 PM
In regards to my plans for this investigation: I'm not sure exactly what I'm asking for on the DM side just yet. It would be unwise to suggest any sort of changes before we have any data that points to what's in need of changing. I would much rather have an easy time discovering that there's no real issues so that that is a message that can spread and so that I can enjoy this content with more players, preferably those in my time-zone and preferably with players who feel comfortable and equal to the Staff and DM team.

What I'm looking for in general: Pretty much the above point about being able to play this content with people. But I'd also like to ensure that good content is matched with a good team. I would prefer not to have to interface with someone listed as a Team Leader who has, within less than a week, aggressively went after a number of users over a misinterpretation, derided players with a sexist term when there were a number of people who disagreed with them, who has responded with disrespect to a civil concern. And while that's a clear and pointed remark regarding @deltaTime 's behavior, it's also the pattern therein where it seems there has been no accountability for his making the players feel abused and unwanted. I'd like to see something done about that so that I personally can feel more comfortable offering my opinions and perspectives on the matters at hand.
[2:44 PM]
As for your other suggestions - I can address those individually. I think monthly updates are a silly thing to expect. You guys are doing this, as far as I can tell, on a voluntary status. Do it at your own pace and have fun with it! No sense in burning out and creating a false sense of urgency. Roadmaps might be useful if you don't already have them, but I think there's usually two forms of that if any - a public and private. It's up to you on whether or not to use one but I can't see it hurting communication any. Surveys may or may not be useful. If all of that information is just going back into the trove of DMs who the players do not trust/do not expect any change from, it would be a moot point. If the data from the surveys was used to direct where to build/what to do, that sounds very cool and I think it's a feature you guys should celebrate! But more is probably not needed? Meta-information on plots does sound intriguing. I think a few general hints/beats/clues that players can access would definitely invite them to become involved with them. I don't think it's wise to reveal your BBEG on day one or to give away twists, though. But if you can connect the server's story with the story of individual players, I think you'd have players much more willing to be active and participate in plots when their own are being advanced at the same time!

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 2:51 PM
I see what you are saying. It seems like a team member can say what they like in here with out consequences.  I understand how this might come about as l well, but I can assure you it is not true. We have our own ways of handling such things and reprimands are given and warnings issued. I can tell you the last thing any DM wants is a dressing down by (unspecified DM) as it is not nice. But it happens. However, such actions will never be done in a public way. You must understand that, yes?
[2:52 PM]
We are held accountable by our own team members

Zarakul ó Today at 2:57 PM
Oh, of course! I am all for the praise-in-public and correct-in-closet methods. When they're proving to be effective. I, however, cannot see any sort of effect taking place here and the pattern that even you are pointing out is continuing to hold true. Usually, in this case, when a person holding a position of representation slips up and makes a fool out of themselves, they also come out, apologize about their behavior, and express how they intend to better communicate moving forward.

I have seen a few parallels passed around that 'You don't tell your boss what to do when he's discussing policy' and that you're hiding all of this sensitive stuff behind closed doors as if the players aren't capable of seeing it and expressing their concerns in a constructive manner. Staff Members/DMs are not above, greater than, more powerful, or otherwise more important than players when it comes to roleplay servers. If a roleplay server has no roleplayers, it is as it stands: a (very well put together) amusement park.

It might be time to put down the Gygaxian DM screen and embrace that you've got a lot of people who are very much excited about things, that want to experience the content that you and other Staff/DMs have put together, that want to help build a story that not only they get to contribute to but that they feel contributes to their own stories. It's time to stop keeping the purple names on a pedestal and let players back in so we can work together to make a server worth roleplaying in.

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 3:10 PM
Alright. We will take on board what you have said here, we will discuss it and come up with ideas on how to move forward and then, in a weeks time we will make a forum announcement (using the forums as so it keeps main clear. Previous feed back has told us not every one wants to read through this sort of thing in main) giving every one a chance to read what we have come up with. Thank you for your time and input. It will be put to good use.

Zarakul ó Today at 3:15 PM
Of course and I greatly appreciate your civil approach to this. I want to reiterate something publicly, though:

To all DMs and Story tellers and Staff Members, Coders, etc. who have worked hard to create Netheril, from version 0 all the way to the current v2 beta, I do appreciate the work you have done. I have enjoyed my first steps in Netheril way back when, I have had bittersweet steps recently, and I hope that, with what comes, we can have a whole lot more players in here to show their love and appreciation of what you guys have done and to help move those plots and threads you want to move along more than just with an event announcement.

To any DMs, Staff Members, Story tellers, etc. who have made poor decisions and want to rectify them so that we can all proceed forward into a brighter future, I am open and willing to conversate however briefly or at length and I hope the rest of the server is too. I am not here to, as they say, piss in your cheerios.

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 3:16 PM
Thank you

Zarakul ó Today at 3:17 PM
And thank you.

Fiverine (Eliezra) ó Today at 3:43 PM
I can only speak for myself here, of course.  I have not agreed with every single decision the DM team has made in my 3+ years here, and I have even butted heads with a couple of DMs on rare occasion.  But not once have I ever felt I was being personally abused or that my voiced concerns were completely dismissed.

I cannot say the same for every other server I've played on.

3
[3:45 PM]
And tbh, I would much rather see this channel spammed with people talking about cool stuff they've done or seen IG, their funny mishaps and other fun stuff rather than metaphorical navel-gazing and picking of scabs.

1

Zarakul ó Today at 3:46 PM
The true goal that all general channels strive for, really.
"People who have no hope are easy to control"

Winterhawk99

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2022, 08:59:59 am »
Having a star chamber where players are convicted guilty before they can even defend themselves is enough for me to leave. There are two particular members of your staff that I have issues with and therefore I will no longer tolerate being called out for things I did not do.

I have moved on to do what I do best for the whole of the NWN community. I only have one debt to pay now to Rainman and I will eventually accomplish that in the name of my good reputation.

Thank you Winterhawk99, former CTP modder, Q-team consultant, Hall of fame tileset maker and Silver Dragon of the AME.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2022, 09:12:39 am by Winterhawk99 »
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Gmork

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2022, 10:02:13 am »
In the effort to remain transparent and honest I will add some much-needed context to the above post.
This player had been making huge posts in his journal and then treating whatever was said in these journals as in-game truths. It has been said before, but now it seems it has to be made a firm rule, that the journals are for players and that the DM's probably will not get to read them (we have a lot of things going on) unless there is need to find out some information. It is stated, though, that things put into the journal can only be things that are in character, that is: not figments of the author's imagination (unless the character is utterly insane of course). By the time we fully understood what was happening this player's character was a fully powerful archmage from the future with special knowledge of all things arcane and knew what will happen to Netheril.
What's more, they were now able to make a time machine so they could travel back to the future to fix her past.
We had a dm who was trying to be accommodating to the player without hurting other people's stories. But it did start affecting others and so it was brought to all of us.
There was a DM consensus that, since they were going to retire, we wanted a disclaimer put on the epilogue saying that this was fanfiction and not cannon to our server so that other players would not be confused.
The disclaimer was added ('*This character is retired' was all that was written in plain text), but it did not address what we had asked and did nothing to clarify what was happening. He was asked to please make it more clear at which point he deleted his journal and got angry.
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Gmork

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2022, 01:07:55 am »
TheMightyGorga ó Yesterday at 9:57 PM
What of a certain recent player ban that I feel may have been done more out of personal enmity than over any sort of actual policy breach? This is the reason I have not been in game since I heard of it. Iím off to work. Iíll check replies later.

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Yesterday at 10:14 PM
We have been very open about what happened. The player had received official warnings in the past about their conduct in regards to back stories and taboo topics. This was the third time we had to have this sort of discussion and as it should be well known 3 official warnings will incur a ban. This was not an easy call to make as the player has been here for a long time and was a friend, but we can not have 1 rule for people and another for friends. This call would have been made for anybody who had received warnings in the past about the same sort of behavior. 30 day ban before appeal is reasonable for some one who has shown that they did not learn from their past mistakes.

TheMightyGorga ó Today at 4:48 AM
Thanks. I would like to know where in the forums it says there's a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy. I have not seen it and the person in question says they have not seen it. Also they were told that V2 would be a clean slate, nothing from the past would matter. So, I would also like to see the documentation on the specific 3 official warnings during V2, as again the person in question says they were never warned officially. Thank you. (edited)

Le'Moure ó Today at 8:41 AM
Maybe it's just me but I find a lot of this very odd..  Granted I really have no stake in any of this, or any of those involved..

On one side you have the DM team attempting to shield information on punishments etc. such as player names / identities, people doing the reporting..

On the other you have players asking for more details up to what is now essentially all information involved, used and now where the official warning were given.

Both of these don't really have a way of meshing... No?  Either Everyone involved can be stated and all information that was used also given, or identities and the same information can also be shielded with a blanket statement of what occured.

idk just seems very odd to me, but maybe I'm the odd one out.  I don't really come here for drama, if I wanted that I'd go talk to either side of my parents families

1
[8:43 AM]
Obviously the most vocal ones are likely the ones having some type of issue with what's going on, and I don't really have a frame of reference past that and the intent from just about all of them has been "We want all information from you the team".

@TheMightyGorga
Thanks. I would like to know where in the forums it says there's a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy. I have not seen it and the person in question says they have not seen it. Also they were told that V2 would be a clean slate, nothing from the past would matter. So, I would also like to see the documentation on the specific 3 official warnings during V2, as again the person in question says they were never warned officially. Thank you. (edited)

Matthew "Gmork" Meier ó Today at 9:27 AM
I'm sorry, this is not a court case, and you will not be able to derail what has happened with a 'well, it's not specifically stated that...', and while I could answer you're questions, I think that they actually point to a larger problem. It seems that you are suggesting that we should be more lenient of stories that deal with inter-family sexual relations and that we were only using the fact that this was roleplayed in the server as an excuse to ban a player. The truth to this is we should have banned the player the first time they brought this sort of story into the server. It was a gross failure on our part that we opted for leniency in this case and it undermines the call that we have been unfair to this player. Had it been any other player we would have outright banned them on the first transgression. Again, this was our mistake and one we will not make again. The ruling stands
These sort of discussions should not be taking place on main. We may, in the coming days, open a new channel for concerns and questions, but for now I am going to move this talk to the forums after a few hours (to let those involved read this) and I will expect that further discourse on this topic, or any other chat like it, be kept there for now.
"People who have no hope are easy to control"

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2022, 10:34:28 pm »
Unfortunately, I received only a small amount of outreach and can provide my concerns only in relation to my own understandings ( i.e. what I have read in the server, screenshots, and stories, the reactions of those I have talked to, and my own personal reactions to both of the previous parts), but I hope that I can still provide a useful perspective. I have been accused of being wordy before, so I'll give a general overview of what I'm saying first. If you're worried about specifics, those will follow below.

Overall/TL;DR:

I would give the roleplay centric persistent world of Netheril: Age of Discovery a 4/10, and let me explain why. This server has some of the best content I have ever seen in Neverwinter Nights community servers. There are multi-layered scripted quests, obvious roleplay hubs, easy to explore areas, a full-scale faction war, and more impressive and unique projects put on display. Unfortunately, this is paired with one of the most mismanaged communities I've ever seen. I don't believe that it's done from a place of anger or favoritism, though - I think the staff and DM team have simply made something they are rightfully proud of and may have gotten a little too focused on that content. Whether or not there can be changes to that management team is yet to be seen and recent events don't give me hope. If you're looking for a well-made amusement park and you don't mind that it's empty, check out the in-game server but avoid the Discord server.



The Good:

This server has content. It's dense and heavy and everywhere. If you find yourself in a map with an NPC, it's likely that you'll either encounter a shop or a scripted quest. Every map feels hand-crafted and carefully put together with details evident in all corners. Even though this place is currently listed as in Active Beta, everything on the modelling, mapping, coding, and customization is already very fleshed out and robust. It would be a crime not to point out the war system that is actively being refined, as well, allowing for large-scale faction wars that are ongoing and that players appear to be able to influence and alter the outcome of. In addition to the custom hardware, there is custom software with altered, new, imported, or rehashed spells and feats to encourage multiple interesting builds. The balance of gold/item gain and effort put into attaining those is pretty well done though it is also currently in improvements as well, suggesting promise for the future of the server's opportunities for activity and fun.

Travelling around the in-game world is mostly predictable and occasionally more rewarding than you might expect! Getting from hub to hub is as easy as getting on a boat or taking a long walk along lush landscapes and fun encounters. Most of the enemies that you'll face spawn far enough ahead as to give a rogue a chance to enter stealth or a magician to prepare themselves or the battlefield, and none of them truly feel unfair. Early game may be rough for squishier characters that don't have enough health to handle being stung by a handful of bees, but breaking past the third or fourth level usually gets an early adventurer on their feet with a purse full of gold or a pretty well-stocked collection of beginner's gear.

One of the major changes from v0/1 to v2 is the implementation of Prestige Classes no longer being locked behind application or DM involvement, but through in-game, scripted quests that are tied to both the flavor and the mechanics of the class. Requirements have been altered in some ways, arguably in less-than-ideal, but most of the choices fit with the theme and the goal of the server's aesthetic of a low-to-medium magic set of mechanics in what is a very high-magic setting. Along with that update, some efforts have been made to document changes on their server wikipedia, though there is still room for players and staff both to contribute further.

The Bad:

First, this server has very few players, specifically in the US timezones. For as dense and crunchy as the mapped out world of Netheril has been made, there are few living people to interact with which really inhibits the server from shining as much as it should. There are threads of stories in place, but they have been left untugged. There are plots hanging with no player base to support and move them forward. While events do cause small peaks, as well as there being a relatively tight-knit Australian contingent, the lack of population leaves the server feeling like an amusement park that's both abandoned and in construction. This extends to the community Discord and Forums where a handful of hard-at-work DMs are letting the void know what they're working on, asking for suggestions, and then moving on without a scrap of input due to there being nobody to give input, or a more problematic issue discussed later on.

Second, there are active conflicts between in-place systems and future systems. (The good on this one is that they're still in works and being discussed, though.) Those conflicts also extend out to the server itself in a few different ways that will be discussed in more detail in the Ugly section. Examples of the issues currently are the clunky crafting system being relatively low powered for being a massive time and resource investment, a gem-slot system potentially disrupting the entire enchanting arm of the crafting system, and the best loot being locked not behind time, effort, involvement, but DM gifting as a reward for events or roleplay.

The Ugly:

The long-term mismanagement of this server, primarily its community, is the reason for both of the major issues as pointed out in The Bad. While I did set out in hopes of possibly drumming up a population boom for this server, especially by talking to those who have left and have yet to come back, but was ultimately disappointed by the resounding response: Nobody wants to return. They cite exhaustion and exasperation with a variety of communication breakdowns, perceived favoritism, perceived cycles of abuse, and the perception that the old staff are above reproach while the new staff are nervous and anxious and left out of the loop.

The communication breakdowns that occur most often do so in the community Discord where a comment is misinterpreted, blown-up, and turned into an argument instead of a conversation. Of those breakdowns, more still appear to be started when discussing the implementation of changes and new changes where a dissenting opinion, regardless of how polite or constructive, may be perceived as a personal attack upon someone's hard work. Unfortunately, this pushes further this perception that the community was (and is) splintered by an 'Us vs. Them' mentality which is incredibly unhelpful and unhealthy. Suggestions have been opened up on the Discord and were once, even just four months ago, a pretty active section of the community server but have since slowed down near the mid-to-end of August. And, following another schism recently, even the active Discord chatter has been reduced to a crawl.

The previously mentioned DM gifting of high-end gear that is otherwise unattainable contributes to a sense of favoritism granted towards a number of players. While rewards are obviously a great thing to give out at the end of an event or as part of a hard-earned roleplay, gear often ends up either back on the market or in the pockets of those who hoard and collect, assuming such gear ever leaves the hands of the rewarded individual(s). A suggestion to the team on that regard would be to stop the practice of having any thing unattainable to be handed out as a reward and to instead switch to a scripted quest, world boss, or other applicable challenge as a chance of getting that impossible-to-find weapon or armor or trinket. DM favoritism is much more difficult to pull off if the only rewards given out are in experience points and gold, and players that will not/can not attend events, whether it be a time restriction or a character-specific restriction, can still attain mechanical peaks that they can be proud of.

While my own opinion is that the previous and current playerbase may be being mistreated, the few sources I have were more inclined to point to things easily searchable to see their issues. Many times, staff members and DMs are able to carry on in their own fashion and come across as rude, mean, unfair, etc. and a few players react to those events and then a small fight occurs where the players end up more punished than the people meant to be upholding the codes of conduct. In addition to this, players are often punished in public ways - a recent example being the banning of a player who was not named in the forum post, but instead had their dirty laundry aired out. For those not familiar with the server's community or their Discord, it might be difficult to tell who it is that was banned, but it feels like priorities were switched on what is important for such an announcement. When players join together and agree on something that they do not agree with coming from a staff member, they are usually told to drop it, messages have been deleted, or it further pushes the concept of 'Us vs. Them' when, in reality, players very often just want to express their concerns, offer up what they think is better, and can handle being treated like adults instead of being seen as argumentative or contrarian simply for having an opposing thought. And then they, along with any one else who really enjoys and prefers playing with said player(s) leave the server. After this, there is occasionally a fix implemented but it often comes too little too late, or with a tonedeaf approach as those concerned players have already left and cannot contribute to the conversation any more.

On the opposite end, staff members have broken their own community rules and are either ignored or are supposedly punished behind closed doors where they must fear a "dressing down" (concern: verbal abuse?), though there appear to be no long-lasting consequences for any actions for those who have been around since the inception of the server thus granting them free reign to be an asshole to people and punish those who react with their feelings hurt. Any interactions where this has taken place usually involves a private apology, though I am glad to see more public apologies given. Unfortunately, this is just a continuation of that cycle. As demonstrated by recent events, when a core staff member act out, you can expect the following: an apology (most often private, even for public actions), a suggestion that the affected player(s)/community at large should go easier on those core members due to cultural differences, and then a return to form.

In the past, I have encountered a number of miscommunications between the staff members or an outright lack of communication in some cases. While that has been partially addressed with the inclusion of a modmail function on their community discord, it still seems that the team's vision is undefined and not yet agreed upon which is a problem for builders, coders, and creators as well as the players who wish to support those efforts or the server's storyline(s). I do hope that things are changing but I cannot look past the screen put up between players and staff members in that regard as there seems to be this belief that the staff are above, have authority over, control, or otherwise are not on the same playing field as the players, further reducing player involvement and by extention player population. Further on this, players are often redirected to the forums to place their important information, suggestions, etc. yet the forum is markedly devoid of conversation and involvement which disheartens the player from doing just that as it creates the sense that their posted issues or concerns are left to rot.



Please note that while I have played in the mentioned server for multiple years, off-and-on, I have no ill intention towards the server or its staff and players. I truly wish that things could be resolved on the team side, perhaps through the involvement of a community manager at the reigns of the Discord while those who are too close to their project to accept open criticism or suggestions are given a less personal overview of player concerns. While I have touched base with previous players, both of older and the newer versions, all of the above statements and concerns are my own and representative of my own experiences. If the perceptions I have are from an ill informed aspect, it would be due to the staff and dungeon master team maintaining their own silence on these counts and I do hope to be proven wrong.

Leyoz

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2022, 05:02:31 am »
Hi All

I considered about writing anything here, because I don't want to create more divide. This is only my experience, what I've heard etc.

I have played a lot of different servers, some very popular, some not. Because I love Netheril (for a lot of the reasons that Solomon said under "The Good"). The primary reason that many had tried and left, or things they heard about the playerbase (which of course includes me). I don't need to repeat what they said but the majority of the comments centered on the kind of behavior that a recent player was banned for. Behavior that was firmly against the rules and was allowed to continue.

One of the good things I find about the server is the team does listen. They are actively updating quests, loot, putting in new systems, playing with players, including open events and player specific plots. I see a team that clearly loves it players and wants them to have fun, sometimes to their own/server detriment.

They do make mistakes, some of which is trying to please everyone (I see an 'us and them' framing but some of the the 'us and them' is actually groups of players feeling jealous, complaining about other players) disparate vision leading to various inconsistencies, and not being the best at administration. But let's remember DMing is a volunteer labor of love. It strikes me as a pretty thankless task when you get a lot of complaining. Note not all feedback is like that at all, but something to keep in mind when giving feedback.

Stay safe and happy playing.

Gorga

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2022, 03:09:23 pm »
It seems that you are suggesting that we should be more lenient of stories that deal with inter-family sexual relations and that we were only using the fact that this was roleplayed in the server as an excuse to ban a player.

I am not suggesting this at all. This sort of thing does not interest me. From what I was told, it was only discussed OOC, then abandoned and not roleplayed IC in the server.

Gmork

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2022, 02:28:11 am »
It is unfortunate that you have been told the wrong information and I am sorry for that. We were supplied with evidence from sources that wish to remain anonymous that say it was very much played out in-game.
"People who have no hope are easy to control"

Fiverine

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2022, 07:45:24 am »
As did Leyoz above, I debated whether or not to post here because I donít want to trigger division.  Iím newer to NWN (and even Netheril) than many here, starting in late 2018.  Itís fair to say itís been a rollercoaster ride since then for both myself and my characters, other players and DMs and the server itself.  Iíve also played on other servers but by far most of my game time has been spent on Netheril.

The strong points of Netheril for me have been the fact I have made genuine friends here.  Iím a somewhat woeful gamer and unlike other servers I could name I donít get mocked or sneered at on Netheril for that.  I have also had the opportunity to contribute a lot of lore, NPCs and in-game descriptions to the setting which is not something I have had the chance to do elsewhere.  The majority of DMs are and have been friendly and helpful and allowed me and other players to drive plots and events and tell our stories without hassle.  The DM team has put in immense personal hours on the content and systems and I think they have produced an excellent place to play in.  I donít agree with every single decision they make and have voiced my concerns on occasion, but overall I feel they care about what they have created and the happiness of those who participate in it. 

The most unfortunate tendency Iíve found on Netheril is that players (along with the occasional DM) form cliques of sorts which become very tribal.  Then when a firm decision is made against a prominent player (such as a ban, denied plot or PC application etc) what has sometimes happened is they will quit the server in a fit of pique and their associated clique will go with them.  This has happened repeatedly, sometimes over serious matters and sometimes over ones that are almost comical.  Another issue I have noticed is that the DM team have not always communicated well with each other about what they are doing in game  This makes it very difficult when a player is working on something and the DM who has been handling it becomes absent and has taken no notes about previous events (difficult both for the player and for the DM who has to step in).  I have other minor gripes, such as accepted styles of role-playing, useable skills, playable races and classes and the different treatments afforded to different alignments, but these are entirely my personal preferences.  I donít see much point whining about them when some players are quite happy with those respective current settings. 

There are some common criticisms of Netheril I would like to respond to.  Accusations of favouritism have come up at times, but I find these often arenít convincing.  Iíve been accused of being a DM favourite by someone who themselves was widely considered a DM favourite.  Hell, in my self-pitying moments Iíve grumbled to myself that someone else is getting all the loot and attention I would like.  We players throw the accusation of favouritism around pretty liberally.  The best that can be done in my opinion is for DM team members who know a player IRL to abstain from voting on applications involving that player.  But this isnít always possible and depends heavily on high DM numbers.  Then there is player vs player actions.  PVP is one of the most difficult elements of NWN in persistent world play.  I think itís handled imperfectly on Netheril but is everywhere else too. 

I will add any further thoughts if they come to me.  But my hope is that Netheril can become consistently active.  Itís always experienced waxing and waning of numbers from big highs to harsh lows.  I would so much rather see us with 5-20 good players regularly online than with 20-50 but half of them being, well, jerks of some variety.  I strongly feel that the former situation is what the DM team and player base should be aspiring to rather than the latter. 
"I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."

Gmork

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Re: Discord Discussion on Public Relations
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2022, 02:27:25 am »
Unfortunately, I received only a small amount of outreach and can provide my concerns only in relation to my own understandings ( i.e. what I have read in the server, screenshots, and stories, the reactions of those I have talked to, and my own personal reactions to both of the previous parts), but I hope that I can still provide a useful perspective. I have been accused of being wordy before, so I'll give a general overview of what I'm saying first. If you're worried about specifics, those will follow below.
.....................................................................................

I have started a response to this thread many times, going over it bit by bit and picking points out to answer and then deleting my work and starting again trying to get the right feel.
But that was before this post was splashed around on social media and nwn pages showing it for what it really is; not advice coming from a place looking to help us achieve a better server but an attack on our server coming from a place of bitterness. Nothing good could have come from polluting the minds of potential players, pointing out faults without saying that the team is actively trying to better the place.
We have already addressed each of the points here and are actively trying to better things and taken on board advice that has been given before.
Honestly, I am very disappointed as I thought you were trying to help us identify things we need to work on and not attempting to damage us and cause more discord in the community.
I hope you can find a place where you enjoy playing and a community that shares your vision, but it seems it is not here.
"People who have no hope are easy to control"