inXile's fan communication policy

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Jernaugh
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inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Jernaugh » January 25th, 2017, 9:07 am

This is a question for the company reps, further to the current furore in the T:ToN forum.

Is the lack of communication on the issues that have been raised in that forum due to legal issues (NDAs or the like), unclear responsibility for communicating, company policy (not getting involved with potentially angry fans, not communicating content that might cause negative responses outside of certain circumstances) or to something else? I'm asking as a "concerned friend" more than anything else. It looks like the lack of statements is having a detrimental effect on those backers participating in the conversation and it does strike me as a concern that might cause issues for the company's PR. I would be very interested in any information on this matter (and of course in any statement on the actual issues).

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Godfather101 » January 25th, 2017, 9:51 am

If it has something to do with a NDA they are not allowed to state that.
Pretty commen procedure in every NDA i signed the last couple of Years.

Also everyone should keep in mind that there is only 1 Month left for the release of T:ToN so most of the people are hard at work to bring us the best product they can.
responding to frequently asked questions(which will lead to more questioning of why etc) is not that important at this point in the Develpoment Process.

Would i like to have some answers for some of the raised questions?
Sure, but i do understand that at the moment there are more important things the Inxiles must work on.
We do get some answers from time to time, thats enough for me and i wait for the 28. February to see the Game in its full Glory.

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Zombra
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Zombra » January 25th, 2017, 10:14 am

A statement of policy would be nice, not just for TTON but for the company as a whole. I don't see why they couldn't do this; it would be a little weird if their NDA or whatever included the clause, "This NDA itself is also secret."

That said, I wouldn't do it if I were them. If they said, for example, "We're not allowed to talk about kittens but we can talk about bunnies," then everyone on this forum would start asking convoluted questions about bunnies every day and throw a fit every time one went unanswered. I guess people throw fits all the time anyway, but still.
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Godfather101 » January 25th, 2017, 12:04 pm

Zombra wrote: That said, I wouldn't do it if I were them. If they said, for example, "We're not allowed to talk about kittens but we can talk about bunnies," then everyone on this forum would start asking convoluted questions about bunnies every day and throw a fit every time one went unanswered. I guess people throw fits all the time anyway, but still.
Yeah, thats the Problem.
If they start telling us "sorry, not allowed due to NDA" people would try to get around the exact reading of said NDA in asking other questions and the whole thing would be even get a bigger thing than it is now.

You can see, as some things are answered and mentioned in other media (like reddit) people already complaining why they can answer this but not that and why they don't tell it here in the forums etc etc.

Also i think there will be another Kickstarter Update and until then i don't think we will getting any answers because the whole thing will be wrapped up in that Update (or at least i believe that they'll do it this way).

So only thing we can do is wait until that update or the 28. February and see for ourself what we get.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Jernaugh » January 26th, 2017, 5:32 am

Wow, NDAs can forbid people from talking about them? That's some serious Kafka-esque crazy dust right there. :D "I can't talk to you about this." "Why not?" "I can't tell you that, either."

I can see the argument here, that they would get bugged for more info, but surely making a statement that addresses the issues raised, mentions what they can and can't talk about (Kafka allowing) and making clear that only certain questions will be answered under X constraints is better than letting discontent fester? If they're waiting for the Backer Update to do that, then it would make sense to announce that the update is coming and will address the issues, surely?

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sear
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by sear » January 26th, 2017, 10:55 am

Thanks for the feedback!

One thing to keep in mind is we're still a relatively small team. Compared to other studios like Larian and Obsidian, we've got half or fewer people. We don't have a dedicated PR person or community manager.

Instead, the people who are working on the games directly are the ones you are actually speaking to and hearing from. This gives you guys a pretty direct line of communication to us. However, the flip-side of this openness is that during busy times, things start to get pretty crazy. Torment is headed towards release, and with Bard's Tale we're cranking away on showing you some really cool stuff. That means it's all hands on deck.

During times like these there are a hundred balls that we have to keep on juggling, and so if it seems like we're not quite as talkative as we are at some points, that's almost always why. Although I'd love to be able to say we have a master plan with our communications, or some very specific policy we're following to the letter, the answer is a bit less glamorous and comes down more to practical realities.

Everyone at inXile is a gamer too, and we fully understand the passions and appetite for info you guys have. We always try to do what we can to keep you informed, but I hope this gives some insight into why things can get a bit quiet sometimes.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Jernaugh » January 26th, 2017, 1:42 pm

And once again, thanks very much for the response, sear! That really does make it a lot clearer why things have been going as they are. :)

That said, I have one concrete suggestion for the forseeable future (pre-release) and one more for future projects.

For now: I think you could smooth quite a few ruffled feathers in the active community and score some major transparency points in the broader backer community by taking the time (pre-release) to write a backer update covering the following:

- the status of Kickstarter promises/stretch goals
This should include: what won't be there (the Toy, etc.), what will be there but in a substantially different form than originally communicated (e.g. Oasis) and a basic idea of the reasons why. I understand that these reasons likely mostly boil down to "we thought the game would be better if we focused elsewhere, as changing circumstances in development suggested this", but even hearing that direct from the devs would be a good thing. Your backers trusted and on the whole presumably still trust you to make good decisions for this game, but right now, they also trust you to fulfill everything. Explaining how the second fell in favour of the first would be a good thing to manage expectations.

- the status of the Italian localization, the reasons for the decision and possibly a shout-out to ongoing efforts to organize a crowdfunding drive
This falls under Kickstarter promises, but as it implies significantly reduced functionality of the game for a group of backers, it probably deserves its own brief section. If the crowdfunding thing takes off, so much the better - your shout-out will show you do care about it, as long as you make clear why you can't do it yourselves financially.

- briefly: the reasons behind partnering with Techland and a comment on their CE appearing superior to the Kickstarter CE
This is a powder keg, obviously, but it needs to be addressed to avoid a larger explosion with DoT later. The perception that the Techland CE is better than the Kickstarter one is based on several facts that are intractable: the steelbook, the statue and the lower price. In my judgment, you will not be able to argue that Techland's offer isn't better than your own original one. I'm assuming that it is impossible to make the Techland CE available to all backers (whether for a price or for free), so you can't actually offer anything concrete to mitigate the hurt feelings this might cause among your backers, but an apology and especially the reasons behind it all would definitely go down well. It would add to the perception of you professionally and capably dealing with the aftermath of such a huge Kickstarter rather than allowing this potentially bad situation to spin out of control.

Of course, such an update won't answer everyone's questions and will likely increase the traffic you'll get, so adding a message similar to the one you posted here (we're only human, guys, there aren't many of us, this is crunch time) might help mitigate people getting frustrated when you don't answer their many questions. I think you will have covered the really important parts, though.

I realize that such an update might feel like eating crow at a time when that is bad for morale, but I think that isn't really the right way of looking at it. You guys are only human and you've been doing a great job so far by all accounts. With a project this size, some things WILL go wrong or be impossible to fulfill. This is only continuing an honest and earnest dialogue with your fans and backers.


My second suggestion is more a mid-term thing. I think your next project might benefit from a basic codex of communication that helps deal with issues of diffusion of responsibility, what to tell people over which channels and how to implement it. It doesn't have to be a huge "stick-to-the-code-or-die" thing, but it should be a list of useful tips for you when communicating with the outside world. If such a thing doesn't already exist, it makes sense to work on it in a preproduction phase, where you're not working to too harsh a deadline. You can also analyze what went wrong in the major sticking points of this development cycle (fans' responses to turn-based vs. RTwP, backer promise fulfillment, backer expectation management) and use that to improve your practices. Again, such a "codex" does mean it's harder to be spontaneous about things, but it is likely to pay off in the long run. At the very least, info coming out can be centralized so that everyone knows where to look rather than some people finding stuff on reddit, other people finding other stuff etc..

Now, all that said, I personally think you guys have been doing a pretty damn good job of dealing with us backers up to now. The new issues that have surfaced recently don't detract from everything you did right, like giving us the UserVoice boards to play around on, the way you handled rewards so flexibly, endorsement deals with MCG that we also profit from and so on. I also have faith that the game will be excellent and a worthy successor to PS:T. Thanks again for addressing these issues even in that pre-release madness. Best of luck to you all for the next few weeks! May there be surprisingly little stress for all of you going forwards.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Drool » January 27th, 2017, 8:30 pm

sear wrote:We don't have a dedicated PR person or community manager.
I'm willing to work remote...
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Lord of Riva
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Lord of Riva » January 30th, 2017, 10:37 am

Drool wrote:
sear wrote:We don't have a dedicated PR person or community manager.
I'm willing to work remote...
so am i :D haha

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Serjo » February 26th, 2017, 6:32 pm

sear wrote:Thanks for the feedback!

One thing to keep in mind is we're still a relatively small team. Compared to other studios like Larian and Obsidian, we've got half or fewer people. We don't have a dedicated PR person or community manager.
There's a guy named Voidmark on reddit who just volunteered for the job. Claims to have a lot of industry experience:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Torment/commen ... ding_cuts/

Might be worth giving him a shout if you haven't hired somebody already.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Nexus » March 8th, 2017, 8:10 am

I know in following the forums on and off there has been some amount of backlash about communication, or lack there of.


The I saw this today and wondered if it was a direct response:

https://inxile-entertainment.com/careers?act=view&id=20


Well I guess it kinda is.
:D

Edit: for what its worth I think its a pretty good move.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Zombra » March 8th, 2017, 9:31 am

Nice to see they finally budgeted for a professional! Thank you inXile!
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by IHaveHugeNick » March 8th, 2017, 9:54 am

Whoosh. About bloody time, too often it feels like wind is blowing on the other side.
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Woolfe » March 8th, 2017, 3:15 pm

Huzzah.... It was bloody dumb not having one after Wasteland 2.

Drool, do you have your resume handy ;)
It's not too late. Make it Eight!

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Lord of Riva
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Lord of Riva » April 8th, 2017, 2:13 am

Hey i just wanted to link a video, maybe worth watching.

As a Disclaimer i worked for this person and this company directly (Back when they were still subterranean games) for quite a while and i am proud that i was able to do so. He definitely voices what i believe is the right approach for all this is. Something I can only confirm through years of working in that environment and understanding what we as video game developers have to do.

Just to be clear any and all work relation has ended on my part with them.

I normally tend to avoid posting vids of other devs, or anything related to my work (to avoid advertisement) in a forum of a different developer but i feel that you, Inxile, should watch this video.

The backlash you have with TTON and possible future products is related to this. After seeing your Job offer and seeing your requirements i felt that you have not really understood what the issue is.

That said, even though i think Drool has to work on his attitude towards others, he would be a good choice for a community manager just because he actually is invested in this whole company and what they do. I wonder if he actually tried to get the job haha.

please, if you find the time watch this presentation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cygUnviN-fc

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sear
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by sear » April 8th, 2017, 1:49 pm

Lord of Riva wrote:
April 8th, 2017, 2:13 am
The backlash you have with TTON and possible future products is related to this. After seeing your Job offer and seeing your requirements i felt that you have not really understood what the issue is.
I appreciate your suggestions, and thanks for posting the video! There's a lot of good ideas in there, and ones we very much try to uphold. But that said, I am not sure if there's any lack of understanding. inXile has always valued openness and honesty with fans and backers, and I can guarantee you that not a day goes by when those aren't being kept in mind.

Rather, the challenge we've been facing is largely one of time and manpower. Thomas and myself have primarily been responsible for community management, Kickstarter updates, social media, etc. However, over time our roles have shifted into production, PR, and design, but without someone else moving in to pick up those other balls (such are the realities of a smaller studio). To be honest, it's meant we've been spread too thin, and it's been hard for us to keep up on the community's concerns, or to proactively get in front of problems before they arise. We fully admit that it's gone too long without having someone leading the charge.

But, with Torment's release, and with Thomas and myself moving into more senior roles on Wasteland 3, we now have the ability to pick up a dedicated person who is able to spend the time and thought in tackling communications with fans. Obviously this needs to be the right person - not only do they need to be a great communicator and have knowledge of social media, PR, and more, but they also ideally have experience in crowdfunding, and a background in the kinds of games we make, someone who can uphold inXile's values while also making sure the community's voice is heard.

Fortunately, there's good news - we think we've found someone who is a great fit for the role, and we'll be bringing on them on board in the coming weeks. :)

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Lord of Riva » April 9th, 2017, 1:07 am

thanks for watching and answering then.

I guess to some extend my worries are alleviated with this. Not solely because you answered the post like you did but rather how fast and also you seem to have watched the video.

That act alone is way more towards what i try to convey in my opinion then the reasons you explain after it, so thanks.

Im looking forward to seeing the new community manager around then :)

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Lord of Riva
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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Lord of Riva » November 28th, 2017, 9:16 am

im just chiming in to show my discontent in both how Bards Tale IV and Wasteland 3 is handled.

nothing personal towards the community manager, it has most likely nothing to do with him, but things havent changed at least not towards the better.

Im just saying that this will be my last pledge for InXile content, i was weary already when the Wasteland 3 fig campaign started, i guess the new investor model annihilates the needs that crowdfunding through pledges had associated with it.

Well, nonetheless, good luck inXile although i think you are betting on the wrong horse, repeating what did not work in the past, i will still be looking forward to the actual games you produce.

You didnt loose me as a costumer (because that would be petty and the quality of your games are pretty much unaffected ) but as a supporter.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Serjo » November 29th, 2017, 5:37 am

inXile's PR is probably juggling too many balls right now.I don't approve of the tone of this tweet, but I can understand why somebody who has been waiting for the BT4 backer site, or the alpha, or a release date announcement, or the remasters, or a Torment patch, or the remaining backer rewards for Torment and WL2 would react badly to inXile's current PR strategy:

Image

This tone is typical of what's happening on facebook, twitter and the kickstarter comments; a lot of anger over a perceived lack of progress and a failure to honor obligations. IMHO inXile should focus specifically on addressing those concerns instead of animating that same fanbase to vote for their VR game.

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Re: inXile's fan communication policy

Post by Euclidean » November 29th, 2017, 8:13 am

Serjo wrote:
November 29th, 2017, 5:37 am
This tone is typical of what's happening on facebook, twitter and the kickstarter comments; a lot of anger over a perceived lack of progress and a failure to honor obligations. IMHO inXile should focus specifically on addressing those concerns instead of animating that same fanbase to vote for their VR game.
For someone complaining about lack of updates he apparently hasn't bothered to read the ones we have had. We knew back in May that it wouldn't be released until sometimes in 2018. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/in ... ts/1889165

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