Foo2rama Game Operations

Author Archive

The Math and Issues behind CS

by admin on Dec.09, 2010, under Blog, Customer Retention, Game Support, Metrics

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RebeccaNewton/20101201/6540/Why_Human_Moderation_Isnt_Enough_in_a_Web_20_World.php

Pretty good look at the math and issues behind working on online games.

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Internet Pundits and Customer Service

by admin on Nov.24, 2010, under Blog, Game Support

http://www.stepto.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=635

This is a great blog post that highlights one of the more fun and sometimes least enjoyable aspects of creating ingame policies.

What happens when people make the argument for allowing Swastikas? These pundits try and trap you into your excuse as to why they should not be allowed and then try to stretch them to apply to other things. Crafting responses and dealing with these issues which have a high tendency to become public can really become tiresome.

Recently I ran into a similar issues where a player felt that having the word “gay” filtered by the chat filter was discrimination against him as he claimed to be a homosexual, and wanted to declare this in the game. I could just see the responses to every possible answer I gave him. I ended up writing a much longer response then I had planned to him, basically telling him we restrict those words because they tend to be used in a negative manner. I also informed him that if he chooses to declare his sexuality we feel he may experience negative feedback, and we will not be responsible for any negative feedback he receives for his actions. blah blah blah….

Anyway the article linked at the top is a pretty interesting rant from my counterpart at xBox Live.

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Startup on the cheap

by admin on Aug.29, 2010, under Blog

I ran across this on TechCrunch.com. It is a great way to look at starting up your own idea/company. Honestly it really simplifies things, and is a great checklist.

10 Steps and $2,000 via techcrunch

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Recreating a video game in the Real world.

by admin on Aug.03, 2010, under Blog

Video Games often imitate the real world, here is an attempt to recreate a Video Game using the Real World.

Real Life Wipeout XL

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A new way to think about Passwords.

by admin on Jul.20, 2010, under Blog, Customer Acquisition, Game Support, News

http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/25826/

Password creation can be a huge block to conversion once you get a user on your site, and lost passwords can drain support resources, this might be a great way to solve those problems.

This is a great article that in many ways solves the 2 major problems with passwords on accounts.  Generally we use restrictions such as minimum length and case sensitivity requiring at least 2 upper case symbols.  This works great against brute force dictionary attacks, but causes users to forget their password.  The other method we use is a max attempts at log in, generally 3, then they get locked out.  This can be used with forcing difficult passwords, but often is used by itself, this though opens up another vulnerability if used solo, there is no check against hitting thousands of accounts with the most commonly used passwords.  I will not spoil it for you but Microsoft just came up with the most optimal solution, feel free to smack yourself for not thinking about it yourself.

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Focus Groups gone wild!

by admin on Apr.01, 2010, under Blog, Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention, E-Commerce

25 years ago Coca Cola released New Coke, one of the biggest marketing errors of all time.  Of course when they decided to do it the focus group testing that data said go right ahead.  The NY Times has a great little article describing it.
NY Time Link

This reminded me of some focus group testing where we showed the same game to multiple groups.  When told the game was subscription based we received positive reviews, when told it was Free 2 Play we received negative reviews.  Regardless of when in the testing we revealed it was Free 2 Play the users started to have a negative outlook.  Now that Free 2 Play is becoming more accepted and the Maplestory kids are growing up this is less of an issue in the Western Market.

Also on this project we found out that players wanted something different than WoW.  Once we released the game we had many complaints that it was not enough like WoW.  This was not related to some of the recent discussions that WoW has made MMORPG’s too expensive to create by having a massive feature set.  In our case it was a whole new control scheme that offered something different then any other game out there.  This game allowed for the player to control 3 characters at once, having  tank/healer/cc characters all at the same time and allowed a wonderful scale of management depending on player skill or the situation the player was in.  We gave players what they asked for, and in return they did not adopt the title in the numbers we would have liked.

In hindsight our guts told us what to expect, but we still followed the focus group data.  Talking to other people I have heard similar stories where Focus group data is misleading.  Is this a failure of the way the groups where run, or a problem with people not really wanting what they think they want?  It appears that CCP will allow players to walk around stations in EVE as players have been demanding it for years, the issue is it brings nothing to the table in terms of gameplay for that title.  So now CCP has the problem of making a new engine, some type of mechanic to create a reason for this, and generally anger the population because of the delay on this feature.

Users who needs them?

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Lessons to be learned from other E-Commerce companies

by admin on Mar.18, 2010, under E-Commerce, Game Support

Often times we can analyze other companies or industries to  improve the way we operate our titles.  In this case eBay has had 2 high profile issues in as many months with car dealers.  Both of these cases involved the apparent failure of setting a reserve or minimum bid on the cars.  You can read about the current one Here.

These are always interesting, as the seller does create a legally binding listing.  Good faith and intent enter into the picture.  Although with the potential for an eBay system issue the problem gets murkier.  This time it appears that the eBay rep admitted that this can sometimes happen…

This seems fishy if eBay had a known problem with this then you would think that any transaction over 5k would be accompanied by a clarification email that reiterated the change made giving a paper trail and a chance to fix the issue if it was not correct.  This would serve to back up ebay’s position as no error on their part because they sent a confirmation email, this also serves to protect the seller from miss-keys and eBay error.

If eBay does have a system issue they appear to be liable at least from a good faith position, so they do not chase other customers away or end up with a flood similar issues.  So what can be learned from this as it applies to our industry?  How many repeat issues is your support or billing department handling that can be avoided by altering a process or sending some sort of confirmation email?  As support costs are at a minimum $1.00 a issue just for manpower how much money can be saved per month and per year for removing these issues from your support/billing queue?

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Back From GDC

by admin on Mar.15, 2010, under News

It was great seeing old friends and meeting lots of new friends this year at GDC.  I will be following up with most of you over the next week.  I also had some great talks with vendors and have a few new ideas in the F2P space to help increase conversion rates using some previously ignored billing methods. Keep watching here for a write up on this, as I am waiting for a little bit of data to make a sound case for a billing method so far ignored in the US market.

Dear Students,

It was great meeting you kids and seeing your enthusiasm for the industry even in this challenging time of securing a position.  I wish you all the luck and hope to work with you guys (and girls) in the future.

-Phil

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Foo2rama Game Operations @GDC

by admin on Feb.11, 2010, under News

Phil Maurer and the rest of the Foo2rama Game Operations Crew will be at GDC all week.   To schedule an appointment please contact Phil Maurer.

philmaurer@foo2rama.com or via phone 714. 867.7262

Hope to see you there!

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Welcome to the Updated Foo2rama.com

by admin on Feb.09, 2010, under News

Please enjoy our updated website.  We will be moving the older content onto the website over the next few weeks.

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