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Crow

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I am writing this in the "Suggestions" forum as I believe it is primarily something the devs need to read and it does not need the visibility of the general discussion forum. This is an open letter to the developers:

 

Many months ago I frequented the BoS forums. I eagerly ancipated the release of the game. To show my support, I even pre-ordered the game for $100 USD. I was excited by what I saw--beautiful graphics, a hardcore simulation, and the potential for a really amazing multiplayer community to form around the only decent combat flight sim to be developed in the past 5 years.

 

As a zealous advocate for simulation games I have always had a special place in my heart for flight sims. Flight sims are a big part of the reason for my biggest passion and life's work: aviation. As a real life pilot, I have always enjoyed combat flight sims more than any other sim genre. I religiously played the original IL-2 Sturmovik and also got very deep into Falcon 4.0 as well the DCS products. I say all of the above so you understand my hopes and level of interest in the genre and in this game in particular.

 

Sadly, expectations have not met with reality. This happens from time to time in games development and I understand that sometimes promises cannot become reality when they are made years before the actual product is finished. I had faith that the developers would work hard to fix any issues that existed during the alpha and beta and that by release time the game would be polished and more acceptable. In fact, I think that most of the developers are still working hard to this day to produce the best product they can.

 

However, I am watching my dreams (and the dreams of many of my fellow sim pilots) slowly die. Not because IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad is a bad simulation--it is not. Not because the game is in some way irreparably broken--it is not. But rather because the potential community around this game is disintegrating. The glue that holds our dreams together is a strong, thriving community who can help support the game and lend their time, talents, and money to keeping the game fresh and growing for years to come.

 

Why is the potential community disintegrating if the game isn't that bad? As you might guess from the title, I think it is primarily a public perception problem. I would like to point out a thread I recently read on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/2q7gsv/seriously_who_voted_for_more_discount_on_a_1_game/

 

The original post is from a reddit user posing the question to other users as to why IL-2: BoS was not selected for the latest Steam community choice vote to go on sale for a heavy discount (the game would've been 50% off of $60; a very heavy discount that should've been quite enticing). This piques my interest for a very important reason: Steam has been the go-to platform for PC game sales in recent years. It has millions of users and any game lucky enough to make it to the top sales position on any given day usually sees a huge swell of support and players. A notable example would be ArmA 2, which suddenly ended up topping the sales charts on Steam thanks to the DayZ mod and went on to become extremely popular with ArmA 3 owing a lot of its success to it's predecessor. Any game that makes an appearance on Steam's front page can expect thousands of sales at a minimum. Only 1 in 1,000 users on Steam need to be interested in order for these sales figures to occur. There is no need for serious market penetration or advertisement. In other words, just being popular on Steam is it's own kind of marketing.

 

Now why is it that IL-2 wasn't voted in? I have a couple of theories. The first is the games store page. As most people are not familiar with flight simulators (especially those currently in production) they likely relied on the store page for their information. Unfortunately, the store page currently shows IL-2: BoS's reviews as "Mixed" (a Steam death sentence from everything I've seen). But the real question is why? Are the mixed reviews the cause of the game's poor performance or merely a symptom? Shouldn't IL-2 have received the same front page popularity boost as many of the other well-crafted titles on Steam?

 

Having read nearly all of the 180+ reviews on Steam and having also seen the replies to the reddit thread linked above I have come to a depressing conclusion: IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad and in particular the 1CGS developers now have a poor public image from the perspective of the average, marginally-involved potential customer base. Customers are not confident that they will be heard or respected as part of the community. I my own estimation if 1CGS cannot correct this perception problem this game will surely perish.

 

Some specific complaints for the developers to consider:

 

1. Reaction to criticism. The internet is a harsh place. Anonymity gives people the ability to say whatever they want free of any serious repercussion. The developers and their surrogates (moderators, community managers) need to have a thick skin. Stifling criticism you don't like only creates more animosity. The average internet user is nothing but indignant if his freedom of expression is infringed. You can expect any person who's thread is locked, post deleted, or account banned to be another customer lost. Don't underestimate the power of these individuals to go tell their friends (as well as post in other places) about their treatment. In addition, carefully read the intelligently written criticisms and look at them from the other person's perspective. Don't assume ill will just because they are critical. Many of your players are critical because they want to see this game succeed.

 

2. Reaction to suggestions. Not all community suggestions are good. As developers it is your responsibility to use your superior knowledge about game development to judge what input is valid and what input will actually hurt the game. Use logic and reasoning. Try to understand the history of what made previous titles successful. As Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." However, you must always approach all suggestions in a benevolent way. Do not stifle or overly criticize. Allow people to vent their frustrations even if you know their opinion is not helpful. I like to keep in mind this quote:

 

"10 years from now people will look back at Valve and see a company who genuinely cared about the games and the people who play games. We did not cut corners and yeah may never have shipped on time, but at least lived up to its responsibilities to moving things forward." -Gabe Newell, 2004

 

3. Specific public relations releases. It is important to carefully word any release of information, response to criticism, or public relations campaign. People will misappropriate ANY quote they can for devious purposes and will spread around even the slightest mistake in an attempt to smear people they don't like. Don't believe a moment that the competition won't use false flags and astroturf users to campaign against you. Be forthright, honest, positive and faithful to the community in all your dealings and you will refute, through your actions, these negative information campaigns. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be friendly and charismatic in dealing with the community (but not to the point of faking it, no one likes a facade).

 

I know that what I have written may sound condescending, simplistic, or obvious, but I have presented it all in good faith. I want to see IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad succeed in the long term. I present these points because they are things I have seen firsthand and these ideas have been corroborated with others experiences as well. I wish the developers all of the strength, willpower, and luck to make IL-2: BoS a game that everyone wants to play.

 

-Crow

Edited by Crow
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Well, those are the paradoxes...

 

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Edited by ST_ami7b5
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I think Zak and Jason did a pretty good job communicating in the english forums. They had some (for me unwelcome) design decisions to explain/defend.

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It's a pleasure to see Zak's moment of madness still echoing out around the internet. I figured 1C had left all of those statements behind but then someone linked this, classic! :lol:

You guys have a terrible public image.

 

qsQPXIz.jpg

Edited by Leifr
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Crow you choose your words well and you are certainly allowed your views (in my book), but I don't totally agree with your premise. It's true that mistakes were made but a solid product was given to all to play. The biggest firestorm began with the Dev's decision to do the UNLOCKS. This took all of us by surprise and actually incensed many to actual anger. Behinds the scenes confrontations flowed over to the open forums. This feud generated a lot of confusion and for some, hate. This hate in turn created a campaign to discredit 1CGS. It did not work but it did distract many possible New BoS pilots and perhaps made them question things. Then some of the Dev's own frustrations overflowed into unfortunate comments. Which if thought is given to it  any of us in that situation might have reacted similarly. Not good business sense but still human.

 

I give no stock personally to any ratings when I choose something to buy like a game. I do my research of course and then I make my decisions based on what "I" want in that product. I forage the respective forums and weed through the garbage posts to see if I want to be part of that. Steam, in my opinion is NOT the meca of ALL games. It is a convenience for purchasing games and such but again I do not buy a game from steam because they sell things any certain way. And I certainly do not rate a game higher because it is on Steam. 

 

1. Reaction to criticism. .... People react differently to aversions. And wrong decisions are made. Or should I say, as I did above, human decisions. I agree in that it is not good for business. But it is understandable if you look at it properly as many here have.

 

2. Reaction to suggestions. .... If you look at the forums, thoroughly, you will see quite a few good and invested comments by the Dev's, & moderators to suggestions made by the community. But being realistic, continuous berating about a subject will not get it changed. And a product such as this can not necessarily be changed on a whim nor should it be. Moderators have a tuff job in sifting through the agitators and those who mean well by their comments. And let us not forget, that on any forum, we are the guest. And as such we should conduct ourselves accordingly. If someone comes to your house and starts talking in a manner that you do not like, what do you do? Join in or ask them to either refrain or leave.

 

   3. Specific public relations releases. ..... I agree that a business needs to be careful of their claims that they release to the public. But in a buyer beware world, not disclosing everything that may be on the docket for the release of a product is not a crime or that unusual. I have no idea whether the UNLOCKS were intended all along or not. And as much as I'm not overly fond of them, I am satisfied, unlike some, that I got my money's worth.

 

All I can say is that in any business model, the producers cannot expect a decent return for several years into a product. In that time their development will continue to improve and yes, change things. But paramount is the release of a solid base product, which 1CGS has done. Over time, as with any product, the haters will fall on the wayside and other may take their place. But a good product will sustain and grow to hopefully fill most of our own hopes. 

 

Chief

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Good post Crow!

 

In business and in life in general, we all make mistakes or regret certain things. It's how we handle those situations is how we will be judged now and in the future. From my gaming/sim experience they usually operate on a small staff and their expertise is developing the game. Those same people try and be the public relations manager with no knowledge or experience and before you know it, things have been misinterpreted and feathers have been ruffled. Key is too never over promise and communicate professionally and coutestly with your clients.

 

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays

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Good post Crow!

 

In business and in life in general, we all make mistakes or regret certain things. It's how we handle those situations is how we will be judged now and in the future. From my gaming/sim experience they usually operate on a small staff and their expertise is developing the game. Those same people try and be the public relations manager with no knowledge or experience and before you know it, things have been misinterpreted and feathers have been ruffled. Key is too never over promise and communicate professionally and coutestly with your clients.

 

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays

 

Ok ..... 10 points for saying it better (than me) in a whole lot less words .....

 

Chief

 

Merry Christmas Crow and Hundo ..... and all the rest of you Sim Bomber pukes and Fghter Jockeys ....

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TL;DR

Please do :).

 

In addition to all things said above, I think 1CG staff should pay more attention to *not* antagonising any people, *even* the ones already hostile, and to stay clear from comments and opinions that may look personal, or letting off their frustrations. 1CG seem to believe that "haters gonna hate", i.e. some people are "haters" who will hate their product no matter what so they can be treated in hostile manner with no consequences, rest of the world is reasonable people who need only to be confronted by facts and honesty. Not true, each time they lose their cool when reacting to "haters" they  lose some of "reasonable" people. They should read their posts before sending speciffically to make sure they don't say anything that gives their opponent ammunition.

 

When you are not the one people want to believe (and they need to accept that they are that), your first goal is to not give tools to opponents and remember that all you do *will* be used against you, period. When you make statement in public, even if you address a specific person, remember you are not discussing with man you exchange posts with, you are making impression on everyone that reads it, including people who didn't read your previous post and know nothing of bigger picture. All to often, 1CG stuff behave like they were ordinary posters, entitled to their antipathies and frustrations. Please, don't. I bed you, don't. You can't afford to use these forums for personal communication, unless it's appreciation. Your antipathy to one rude poster is seen 1CGs antipathy to large part of community, and it can't be helped. Only avoided. 

 

It's like propaganda war between Entente and Germans during WWI. The Germans honestly believed that playing by rules, addressing the world with facts and honesty and making no compromises with enemy will be enough to maintain sympathy of neutrals. All Entente needed to do to make whole world hate Germans was to twist everything German say and do, and give it sensationalist presentation. Germans execute a genuine war criminal (who also happened to be a British nurse)? Let the world know they are monsters that murder innocent women. Germans damage a British munition transport-pretending-to-be-passager-liner (with live unsuspecting passagers aboard), which sinks from secondaries? Let everyone know how they sink harmless civilians for evelulz. The Germans believed that as long as they do right thing and let people know exactly what happened (Edith Cavell really a war criminal, Lusitania really a munition transport etc), people will believe the facts and agree with German reasons. They were thinking in rights and wrongs, legitimate and illegitimate targets, where they should be thinkng in profit and loss. To this day they are remembered as monsters, while very real Entente war crimes are obscure details known only to historians. Executing war criminal who could be made harmless by simply expelling her was justified, but not worth PR damage. Sinking Lusitania was justified, but British loses in ammunition were not worth German PR damage. Trying to meet black PR on metacritic head-on was not worth damage it caused, and letting the post off without proofreading it for alternative interpretations was extra shot in the foot that did more damage than unlocks and presets. The dealings with Eagles Nest team was valid company policy, but not worth the PR damage. The recent comment about community vote on Steam, and personal rebuffals of various "haters", are pure PR damage that don't even try to gain anything.

 

 

Prior to commercial release, I have spent some time here and on steam putting devs posts in contest and trying to explain what, given big picture, their reasons are vs what they literally said in single post. I gave up because repeatedly next thing team member posted made my post seem hollow even to myself. The sympathetic community members will not pull you through this one, 1CGs. It's time you start helping :(

Edited by Trupobaw
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She was, Geneva Convention both protects the Red Cross personnel and prohibits them from belligerent actions, violation is a war crime :) .

Edited by Trupobaw

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She was, Geneva Convention both protects the Red Cross personnel and prohibits them from belligerent actions, violation is a war crime :) .

 

Please show me Edith Cavell's "conviction" for violation of the Geneva Convention.  She was convicted by a German military tribunal of treason under German military law.  Since Edith Cavell was undoubtedly a nurse this broke most of the articles in chapter 9 of the 1906 convention which - as you say - is a war crime. :)

 

I can't quite recall why a British citizen living in Belgium found herself at the mercy of a German military tribunal in 1915 though?  Wait a minute....it's coming to me now but I think I may be the victim of propaganda!

 

Either the Germans committed an act of armed aggression and invaded Belgium and deliberately mowed down a few thousand Belgian civilians in the process - I'm presuming here that this would all be considered a war crime in itself - or - Germany found itself unfortunately forced much against it's will to invade Belgium just before those evil Belgians encircled the German empire?  Oh yeah, all those civvies that got shot were in fact heavily armed snipers.  Sometimes whole villages seem to have been inhabited by heavily armed civilian snipers!! :o:  Strange place...Belgium. 

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The point revelant to the discussion is, Germans believed her to be one, knew she was one by German law, knew that laws and customs of war don't protect her and believed it's all they need to tell rest of the world. They expected everyone not biased will see they actions as right just because they knew they are, rather than thinking how their own actions can be reinterpreted to be used against them. 

 

Off topic

If we have to take things off topic, Germans *asked* Belgium to let them pass to France unmolested, to which Brittain threatened to interfere against everyone who violates Belgian neutrality - including the Belges if they fail to resist Germans. Not so long after Boer war, it was obvious that being occupied by British was worse option. And yes, original Triple Entente war plan assumed massed invasion of Germany by Alsace-Lorraine AND Belgium, so someone was going to invade it anyway. Not surprising if we remember that Belgium was created by French as buffer country...

 

The problem with Belgian civilians and snipers was the same as with Red Cross: if civilians and nurses are to be protected from occupying soldiers, the soldiers must trust them to not take part in fighting against them. That's why fighting in civilian clothing or "nursing" POWs to neutral country is as much a war crime as bombing hospitals, and why when civilians start sniping soldiers soldiers start killing other civilians. Happened in every war since when someone decided to fight disguised as civilian, present conflicts included. The Germans demonstrated to Belgians why laws separating civilians from fighting are such a good idea for both parties, but thanks to Entente propaganda all we remember is that some people got killed.



Let's stick to actual topic, it's far more important than which historical examples I've used to underline a point.

Edited by Trupobaw

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The point revelant to the discussion is,

 

It strikes me that very little, if anything you have posted in this thread is relevant to the op but you do seem to have used it as a vehicle for your curiously one-sided view of modern European history. 

 

The Germans were in Belgium illegally.  Prussia had been one of the signatories to the Treaty of London back in 1839.  The Germans invaded Belgium and violated that neutrality.  That is a crime.  Neither the French nor the British invaded Belgium. 

 

Theres just no getting away from this is there?  Bethmann had to admit it's illegality to the Reichstag, no?   Edith Cavell was tried and executed by an aggressive, invading foreign power.  It was murder.

 

As was the slaughter of Belgian and French civilians by an aggressive, invading foreign power within their own borders.

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I called it first. :P

 

These "open letters" all follow the same pattern, so I can't really take them all that seriously. :)

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I compared the way devs don't scrutinize their posts for possible malicious interpretations with how Germans dug their own grave by not caring how difffernetly can their actions be interpreted. I believe it to be revelant to op and followed it by examples that underline how they relate.

Crow and everyone, I apologise for my part for setting the thread off topic. I should have known better.

Luke, this one is worth making exception :).

Edited by Trupobaw

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What's this WWI sideshow?! Leave it out, s'il vous plaites.

 

Crow - nice, considered post. I'm sure you'd find a lot of agreement here.

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TL;DR

I like and agree with much of the OP. Particularly the parts about remaining professional and not airing grievances in public. I am a former service manager and it is often one of the most difficult things to do in the face of an angry customer but paramount to good customer service.

 

On the other hand I had to look up TL;DR - trying to interpret it on my own I came up with Too Late;De-Railed. But that didn't happen until after your post. I have the Urban Dictionary, however, to assist my street ignorance now.

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