Academia on Fallout fans

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Brother None, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Apparently we - or from what I can see more the BGSF folks - are the subject of academic scrutiny, trying to solve the question of how producer-fan interaction acts in the age of increased interactivity.<blockquote>Fans of the digital-game series Fallout were active in voicing concern for the upcoming title Fallout 3 (set to release this fall), and did so on the forums of the game’s production studio, Bethesda Softworks. The heart of the tension was that Bethesda wasn’t the developer of Fallout 1 & 2, and was making drastic gameplay and narrative changes to Fallout 3. Analyzing forum interactions made for great study, since I had never seen research document regular producer/fan interaction so deeply, never mind the bombastic beauty of the forum’s confrontations. I’ve never seen such eloquent flames.

    A few things impressed me. One of the first things I noticed was that even in a marketplace where geek is in, the producers still seemed to hold all the cards. It was Bethesda’s game. It was Bethesda’s site. It was their vision of Fallout that, whether valid or invalid, would hit the shelves. Fans, recognizing a lack of official ownership or control, acted as lobbyists and watchdogs, attempting to indirectly influence the integrity of Fallout 3 through pleas and petitions spread across thousands of forum posts. Bethesda employees, fittingly, treated fans like outsiders in their responses. Whether cordial or hostile (and different producers interacted in different ways at different times), the undertone was clear: we are the organization, you are the public. We’ll let you suggest, but we will decide. The text is ours.

    Even more impressive, fans seemed to happily accept their role in the process. Despite many scholarly concerns over the exploitative side of fan labor, when fans on the official Fallout 3 forum lobbied, suggested, and expanded they did so recognizing that this was their most effective way to influence the integrity of Fallout 3. Exploitation was trivial in the face of such purpose. One poster summed up the general fan perspective on their role in the game development process:

    Fallout 3 MUST be like Fallout…the best answer for every question on this forum besides “I have the holy sacred duty to watch over my beloved game”</blockquote>Not a bad perspective. Somehow this topic reminds me of this bit from the Q&A GFW conducted with me that they left out.<blockquote>JM: How do you think bethesda should/shouldn't be interacting with the existing fan base?

    BN: "At all" would be a great start.</blockquote>And that's the way the cookie crumbles.

    Link: Guest Post: Industry groks geeks? Producers, fans, and an era of sudden interactivity.

    Spotted on Fallout 3: APNB.
  2. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    What I find interesting of this is that his conclusion appears to be the anti-thesis of what "alternative community interaction" engenders.

    He chose to research on a game where the fanbase is very outspoken and active, but where the producer is very withdrawn and insular. It's interesting, but I find it tough to apply this to the industry at large. I think the "common average" would have a less interested fanbase, excepting those that have us beat pat (such as Korean StarCraft II fans) and a less insular company - because other than Nintendo and EA, Bethesda is one of the worst companies when it comes to fan interaction.

    What I would think is really lacking in a study of Bethesda-Fallout fan interaction is a (short) comparison to BIS-Fallout fan interaction during van Buren. Of course that would have had to be prepped years ago since I think the forums aren't even held by the Wayback Machine now, but it's interesting to see what happens when you change one variable from the insular Bethesda to the more open BIS.
  3. TwinkieGorilla

    TwinkieGorilla This ghoul has seen it all

    Oct 19, 2007
    not only that, but the title of Fallout is legendary and the "continuation" of the series is one of the most controversial of all-time. it is a peculiar choice that does not examine the "industry" as much as it merely illustrates a facet of the industry (i.e. popular titles being re-animated by foreign developers). i find it interesting though, that it is enough of a topic to be studied at all.

    all in all, interesting stuff.

    i remember when i first appeared over there, you and i briefly touched on this same subject. the complete cooperation and willingness to work with fans during V.B. and the VAST difference in Bethesda's fan/dev relationship.

    that would, imo as well, be a much more interesting topic to study.
  4. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    I've been over this many times, and the funny thing is that while many people agree it's a preferable situation (Desslock, for instance, talks with fondness of Troika and such open companies) its still a rarity.

    The current publisher-to-media model simply doesn't rub well with open fan interactions. You need information control, because controlled information is easiest to manipulate, and you need to position the media for exclusivity so they can properly fulfil their hype-bound task.

    The only companies of the open stamp I've had any experience with - other than indies - are BIS, Troika and - to a lesser degree - Obsidian (haven't been to the Obsidian forums in a while, though). Perhaps this open model really does only fit these kind of niche developers, which is why Bethesda is more representative of the industry at large.
  5. TwinkieGorilla

    TwinkieGorilla This ghoul has seen it all

    Oct 19, 2007
    rarity or not, it's still an interesting topic worth writing about or reading.
  6. HoKa

    HoKa Still Mildly Glowing

    Jul 23, 2007
    Stop licking your own ass, BN :P
  7. grapedog

    grapedog First time out of the vault

    Jun 6, 2008
    It's unfortunate too, very early on during the development of Morrowind, the developers were much much more active on the forums. As time passed, they withdrew bit by bit as they started getting harrassed and badgered and it stopped being enjoyable to interact with their fan base. I understand why...and just one glance at the Bethsoft forums now provides plenty of more reasons not to return.
  8. JR Jansen

    JR Jansen Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Apr 11, 2003
    So, what you are saying is that they are scared out of their wits to interact with the fans because they might <gasp> be proven wrong ?

    And i glance at the Beth forums to, you know. And what strikes me is the mostly pro-Beth posts there. More critical posts usually become flame wars and mostly because of the pro-Beth crew or are locked. So, i see no cause for the devs to go there because they have enough people on their forums willing to kiss their collective asses.
  9. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    It's a reciprocal thing really.

    This line keeps getting sold (by the BGSF mods) but it's simply not true. It's not as if the Bethesda developers were on the forum giving out pure truths when Oblivion was being produced. You can't blame the receiver for calling them out on their lies, and the fact that this burden is attempted to be shifted to everyone except the developers is ridiculous. A lot went wrong with fan interaction there but the fact is that Bethesda has always had a very active and supportive fanbase. They turned them against Bethesda primarily by first screwing over Arena/Daggerfall fans with Morrowind and then screwing over Morrowind fans with Oblivion. Is it really then the fans' fault if they're pissed?

    True dat.
  10. Ausir

    Ausir Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Apr 20, 2003
    As someone working on wikis for both Fallout and The Witcher, I can say that CD Projekt's fan interaction is great.
  11. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    So I hear.

    Such things are hard to judge for me now. Though I know that the guys from CD Projekt really like GameBanshee too, and companies that are open to explicitly niche sites like GB, RPGWatch or (gasp) RPGCodex tend to be made of sterner (and cooler) stuff.

  12. Ausir

    Ausir Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Apr 20, 2003
    CD Projekt's community manager Paweł Majak and community assistant Tadek Markiewicz actually do their jobs unlike a certain other community manager are very helpful and are available on Skype and other IMs for all fans to talk to. I also like their approach to forum and wikis and very much.
  13. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Sometimes I wonder what the more hands-off community managers do all day.

    Must be a cosy job.
  14. Lingwei

    Lingwei It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 5, 2008
    He isn't talking about the Bethsoft forums is he? I don't think I have ever seen anything approaching eloquent flames on the Bethesda boards courtesy of summer and co.
  15. Briosafreak

    Briosafreak Lived Through the Heat Death

    Dec 18, 2003
    He talks about it in the setup for the body of the piece. It's an excellent piece, even if you try to read it with some distance and a critical eye. It really is.

    And it will make wonders to Brother None's ego, he's even in the glossary :)
  16. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    I am the glossary

    Did I ever tell you guys I made the credit roll for the Fall?

    That still haunts me to this day.
  17. Wooz

    Wooz Vault Sweeper Admin Orderite

    May 18, 2003
    Doesn't matter, it's not as it came out in English.
  18. myzko

    myzko It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jul 5, 2007
    I read this thread in awe.
  19. bazola

    bazola First time out of the vault

    Feb 27, 2008
    The part of Flagship developing Mythos is also very open with the community.
  20. grayx

    grayx It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 3, 2008
    Both Beth’s F3 and The Witcher site are good examples to compare “things” and learn if you are interested [and have time] to do so. As far as I know, The Witcher is first CDP’s game. On other hand, I think Bethesda is, ironically in a way, victim of their own success with [most noticeably] Oblivion.