PAC Report: The First Two Weeks
OK, folks, here is a quick summary of what the PAC has been doing. Compiled & written by one of our own PAC members Lynne.
You can feel free to comment here or on the forums by clicking HERE
* As posted earlier, we had intensive training in San Francisco. That focused mainly on how to communicate with Zynga. I did not see anyone drinking Zynga Kool-Aid and can honestly say that the PAC is a group of highly opinionated players who view it as their responsibility to advocate for players.
* Once we returned from San Francisco, we started organizing ourselves to communicate issues, questions, and suggestions to Zynga.
* As part of our organizing process, we have compiled issues/suggestions from a variety of sources INCLUDING THE FORUMS.
* Since then, we have submitted two batches of questions/issues. (Each batch is limited to no more than 10.) Many of the items raised reflect concerns seen frequently on the forums. (Keep reading for more details.)
* The PAC members made the decision to make each weekly batch a mix of big issues, smaller easier-to-fix problems, and, when necessary, questions regarding Zynga strategy/policies
* To date, we can only take credit for some links being corrected and two minor fixes:
— remove non-friends from mafia is back
— number of burners is visible again
* We asked for clarification on why cities are closing and whether they will return. This is the answer we received:
“The reason we are closing down cities is to make space for new areas while keeping the game manageable for both new and elder players alike. This is not to say that these cities will not be reopened at some point in the future.
Mafia Wars is in a unique genre of games. It is a progressive game and people have been asking for more cities, with more challenges. In order for us to provide this progression and new challenges, we need to “clean up” a little.
We also work at making the storyline entertaining. While we understand that this might not be optimal for some, we try to find the best solution to optimize the game play experience.
Thank you all, and we hope you enjoy Brazil!”
* We received some answers to our first batch of questions/issues. These were more specific than the “we’re working on it” answers we typically see in forums, but nothing that I would characterize as a breakthrough. A few condensed highlights:
- Updating Crime Spree loot: They are planning to rework the feature in Q2.
- Fix Secret Stash glitch that lets others steal your stash: They are at preliminary phases of reprogramming this. Apparently it would take more time to fix than it does to start over.
- Fix the Fight Page problems (long list of bugs/issues): They are scheduled to revamp the fight page in Q2. They’ve said we will have input into this process and have asked us to hold related problems for now.
- Two items: Adding Stamina refills in Fight Club and adding 25% stamina boost to toolbar.Before I post the answer, please know that PAC members expressed strong disagreement with the answer. In response, they are scheduling a chat between PAC and developer(s) for sometime after Brazil launch. This was the answer:
“This is a challenging one and something we are constantly trying to figure out how to accommodate. It is not as simple as just creating a 25% boost. We have to take into consideration that a 25% boost can turn into a level up and then that becomes a 100% boost, then you can use another 25% boost and get another 100% level up. So a 50% in boosts actually becomes 250% which then creates a game in-balance with people leveling up exponentially.
As you know, we are testing a few things out with energy and looking into how it would effect game play and balance. It might sound like an easy add, but it can have a profound effect on outcomes.
While I don’t have a strong date to say we will have a solution by X… we will be releasing some energy changes and watching that data which will influence how we approach stamina.”
- Adding ability to contact a Mafia Player in game: This is too much programming work for something that is currently being handled by players via Skype and other programs.
- Make wars competitive: They requested more information from us.
- And everyone’s favorite – POP-UPS. They told us during training that they area testing a checkbox that gives the player the option to click something like “see this less often.” There was much discussion of pop ups at the session and we are convinced that they have heard and understand player complaints. The problem is that their metrics show that pop-ups work – i.e. people click on them to do or buy things. So, since we knew eliminating pop-ups was not going to happen, we starting by asking that they eliminate the most disruptive pop-ups from fighting (where it is keeping people from getting ices) and from banking. Their answer:
“We have reduced the amount of pop-ups and are monitoring closely. We are looking for good replacements for conveying information. We need to be able to notify people actively about new stuff and when things happen in game, i.e. level ups, icing, loot drops, etc. Maybe this can be one of the weekly topics to discuss in PAC.”
PAC members felt very strongly that the pop-up answer did NOT address the very real problem of pop-ups in fighting interfering with PvP game play. Individuals expressed their concerns, and, as a group, we resubmitted this for further consideration with the second week’s batch of questions/issues.
* For our second week, we addressed more issues, including gifting problems, low loot drop rates, city lockouts (see answer above), loot updates throughout game, and giving players control of when boosts are used. We included several questions designed to give us a better understanding of why there seems to be such a void between what active players say they want and what Zynga does. We understand that answers are in the pipeline, but we haven’t seen them yet.
* We are working on ways to regularly communicate with players, too. I know this will include regular posts on the forums. You should also follow some of the popular Mafia Wars blogs as many bloggers are in PAC.
IF YOU DON’T SEE YOUR ISSUE ON THIS LIST, DO NOT PANIC. The PAC started with clear cut issues that we had virtually universal agreement on. That doesn’t mean they are the most important, but it did mean that they were the easiest to get the ball rolling with.
Before we submit an item, we review it as a group, consider how the suggested change could be exploited, discuss how changes will impact different kinds of players, and try to work through the issue to come up with specific actions to request. We’re investing this time in order to try and provide the Mafia Wars team with specific feedback, in hopes that this will more quickly lead to action. That’s why some of the tougher issues are still being discussed within PAC.
Last week we reviewed a list of the top 50 or 60 issues raised in the forums and we will be continuing to monitor and work these into our weekly lists. We have a maximum of 10 items per week, so this is going to take a while.
In conclusion, I know that many players were hoping for immediate results from PAC and some feel that the lack of fast action means no action will be taken. We disagree. Although there are some big gaps between our point of view and the policies driving the Mafia Wars team, we do believe that they are listening, engaging with us, and taking the time to understand our issues. None of us can guarantee that this will work, but we are all doing our best to represent players. And, yes, that includes going back to Zynga when we disagree with them. One thing I can say for sure: the PAC members are not shy, easily intimidated, or bedazzled by Zynga.
The Player’s Advisory Committee