Line Of Defense Tactics - Tactical Advantage
Wazat1 Feb 17 @ 12:12pm
Some PR notes
Hi Devs,

So I've been looking at the game and some of the hate it has drawn. I cannot say whether it deserves the criticisms, since I haven't bought it and I find the price a high deterrent, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.

There are several games I decided to avoid because I saw the dev being too protective of his baby, or wielding the ban hammer too righteously and too fervently. That is a dangerous turn-off. Games I might have otherwise bought dropped off my list when I got the sense the devs were hostile. Yes the mob can do terrible things to your game's reputation, and you need to wield your PR tools to protect your game's image. But when you swing the hammer too hard or too wide, you attract more attention for that than anything the mob was piling on... and then the mob really gets incensed.

There's 2 reasons an overly-defensive dev worries me:
1) I don't dare voice my honest opinion, and will have to avoid official forums (more about this below)
2) The game quality will suffer if the dev is too certain of the greatness of his game (again, more below)

I used to attend a board game developer's group every other week. We played and reviewed each others' games regularly, trying to prepare and craft them properly for prime-time. The biggest problem we had was people doing the testing were too pandering, or they didn't know how to give a critical analysis of the game's good and bad points. Rarely did we wrestle with someone who was abusive or unreasonably negative -- just one guy in the whole group, actually, and I stopped dealing with him.

Why was not enough criticism a bad thing? Because if we didn't have someone ready to tell us our baby is ugly, we could never make it better (and it's a bad idea to learn later rather than sooner). As devs, we can't see the huge, glaring, pulsating warts on our baby's face; we're too fond of the little bugger, or through long hours of development we've learned to overlook them. When someone is maliciously hostile you blow them off and manage as appropriate; but when a tester says nothing more than "I liked it" or "It's nice", that's devastating. You can't draw any useful information from that. If the positive review is broken down in to various components, that's a very good sign. But games drown in blindly positive "critique". This goes for reviews of a finished product too -- I avoid the "it's good" and "it's bad" reviews, and read into those that really sink their teeth into the game's good and bad aspects.

So here's what I'm saying with #1: People who tell you the controls are ineffective are doing so because this is something that sincerely needs fixing. People who tell you the price ($25 or $18 on sale) is very high for such a simple game are doing so because this is a big deal to them -- the new XCOM is only $5 higher than your normal price, for example. People are saying these things because they are sticking points, things that hurt the experience or ward them away from a purchase. And that brings me to problem #2 above.

I'm waiting to buy Nidhogg until they fix their network code (I would mainly play online with people who live hours away); and from what I can tell, they might do it. The game is $15, which is a lot for the singleplayer campaign; but when I hear the network code is up to snuff, I'll happily pay full price or even slightly more; I won't even wait for a sale. But I'm waiting now, because that's a showstopper, a deal breaker. I'm not being malicious. It's just that for $15, I want to get a fun time out of it, and people I've asked say it's neat but way too short for that much cash.

Am I making a fair assessment of the game's singleplayer? Erm... I don't know; I'm going off of the opinions of people who have played it. But I remember struggling with Magicka's netcode and letting loose some very colorful, very creatively profanities; I want to wait until this game's online multiplayer is working well.

So let's return to LODT: When a game's major points of criticism are awkward controls, no pause button, high price and insufficient length, I pay attention because that sort of thing matters a whole lot to me. If you think people are committing shadow puppetry or meat puppetry, that's its own matter; but if their concerns are coming up over and over again and they seem about right, then the worst things you can do include, right near the top of the list:
-dismiss those claims and telling everyone your game is, in fact, awesome in your opinion
-act belligerent toward those who are belligerent to you
-establish a pattern of banning people for being vocal

Doing these things promises to prospective buyers that legitimate problems are unlikely to be addressed in the future, and it's dangerous to voice honest opinions in the forums.

The strongest example of how this "ban hammer" response has affected my purchasing choices is Origin, EA's response to Steam. When they started banning people wholesale and robbing them of access to even play their games (including innocent people who were simply mentioned by banned players in their posts), that sent a clear and burning signal to the gaming community that a new world power had risen in online distribution, and that we should be afraid.

After watching the bizarre witchhunt unfold and the fallout settle, I had concluded I would never do business through Origin. I want Dead Space 3, but I will wait until it's on steam or some other service. Have they fixed the problems with Origin's moderators? Maybe. Is it fair for me to continue judging them after all this time? Eh. But EA did the equivalent of unleashing a drug-stimmed guerrilla into a fistfight, and that gave everyone pause.

Image matters, and the image of "stuck-up ban-loving diva dev" can be worse than "lame game do not buy", though it depends. Some people and products have made a killing by cashing in on the drama and spectacle of their bad reputation, and have nurtured that love-hate relationship with the press and their customers. But if that's a road you dare go down... I wish you luck. Get a professional PR person on the case, you do not want to wing that yourself.

In conclusion to my rambling post above:

You have to have a very thick skin to wade in the vitriolic cesspool that is public relations. If you DO NOT have a thick skin, step away and let someone else do PR. I'm drop-dead serious here, have someone else moderate your forums. I'm pretty thin-skinned myself, and a jab in the right spot can really make my ears burn. ;) If I released a game, I'd want someone else to be my face-man, so I don't screw it up. It's important to let attacks roll off of you, use your dev tools in moderation (not too little, not too much), and otherwise protect your game's image from slander, without slandering it yourself.

As for my own decision to not purchase:

I've watched a couple gameplay trailers and read some reviews of your game. It looks neat, and appears to have potential. But... for $18 or especially $25, this is not a good purchase for me. This is especially true when people express concerns about clunky/unreliable controls and game length, and then the dev talks about how his game is great and gives me the impression that these issues won't be changing. That's ultimately what affected my decision.

Should you censor those criticisms to avoid shedding impulse buys like that? Erm... Err.... please don't. Once people sniff out a highly censored, climate-controlled image like that, they flee in droves. It's a big deal. It's why people become uncomfortable when presidential debates or speeches turned out to be fraudulent (audience was hand-picked and controlled, etc), or even when sitcom laughter was a pre-recorded laugh track played strategically instead of an actual audience responding to the show. Or when an insane national dictator claims he took a vote and got a 100% approval rating. ;)

Avoid that image, it's toxic and it could very rapidly make you infamous and unable to wield the power of a happy and devoted community.

I hope this thread will not be deleted. I can understand if you lock it though, to prevent people from piling on with angry rants. I don't encourage it, but I haven't read your forums at length and I don't know the full scope of what you're facing.

Whatever the case, good luck to ya! Just because I'm not purchasing the game doesn't mean I don't wish you, as an Indie Dev, well.
Showing 1-15 of 17 comments
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Ragequit Feb 17 @ 12:19pm 
This is an incredibly good post. It's very well written and relays what some people were trying to get at over the last few days, albeit unsuccessfully.
Last edited by Ragequit; Feb 17 @ 12:33pm
zylche (Banned) Feb 17 @ 12:22pm 
Thank you for articulating matters into a well summarised viewpoint of the consumers. I share your concerns and hope these are tackled in the future.
dsmart  [developer] Feb 17 @ 12:25pm 
Thanks for that well written post. I can tell that it took you some time to write all that up and as far as I can tell, is quite unbiased.

While I may not agree with everything (e.g. in short, you're saying to let people continue to troll, harass and abuse people here) you wrote, the gist of it is what we - as devs - hope actually happens. Sadly, that's not the case at all - as I've explained over here.

If this censorship were merely about valid issues with the game, we would not be having this discourse. But it's not.

Games, by their very nature, have issues. I know all too well. But if nothing else, I have earned the reputation of someone who patches and supports his games from the day and date of release, until everything wrong with it is fixed. I have done this for every game. Even those legacy ones which stopped selling as they once did. And it is because of this rep, that people keep trusting me and buy my games. If I didn't have this rep, I wouldn't be here after all these years following the great Battlecruiser 3000AD debacle of 1996. So, complaining about a game's issues is not a good reason to delete posts or ban people. Simply put, we don't do that. At all.

Pricing is never right. Even if a game is $9.99, someone is going to complain. A game at $49.99, is going to have people complaining. We set the price of the game and we're sticking with it. If someone finds it too expensive - for whatever reason - it is their right not to buy it. Or they can wait for a sale, when that happens. So, complaining about a game's price is not a good reason to delete posts or ban people. Simply put, we don't do that. At all.

People use these issues as an excuse to troll, insult, abuse and generally behave badly. As a gamer, my guess is that you know this all too well.

As explained in this In Pursuit Of Fairness thread, when we started deleting posts and resorting to banning repeat offenders, it was akin to pouring gasoline on an already burning flame because, as you know, people who behave badly online in forums are always the first to scream censorship, free (!) speech etc when they find themselves at the end of disciplinary action. And you simply cannot leave them to their own devices and hope that they just wake up and realize that what they are doing is wrong. If that was the case, there would be no forum rules.

So, the long and short of it is that we have no other recourse but to uphold the rules and guidelines for posting here. If Valve wanted a lawless frontier - despite the fact that even the Steam community mods are hard pressed to keep the peace, thus the sad state of the Steam forums - they wouldn't have bothered to write up said rules and guidelines.

I don't know what else to say tbh.
Last edited by dsmart; Feb 17 @ 12:28pm
zylche (Banned) Feb 17 @ 1:27pm 
Why do you refer to Wazat1 as a troll in your tweet?
Last edited by zylche; Feb 17 @ 1:27pm
dsmart  [developer] Feb 17 @ 1:31pm 
Please stop. I did no such thing. I specifically tweeted a link to this thread to highlight my post and said NOTHING about him as he is not a troll, you are.

Once again, I am going to ask you to stop.

You have been banned again. Now we're waiting to see who removes that flag.
Last edited by dsmart; Feb 17 @ 1:34pm
Señor Scarybagels (Banned) Feb 17 @ 1:36pm 
So you are the only non-troll here, every other person in the world is a troll? Got it. Inb4 ban because I am hurting DSmart's ego.
Last edited by Señor Scarybagels; Feb 17 @ 1:37pm
dsmart  [developer] Feb 17 @ 1:38pm 
Everyone please read.
Wazat1 Feb 17 @ 2:22pm 
Sounds like you have your hands full. :(

I might still pick up this game, e.g. during a holiday sale. Sometimes I buy a game on sale, try it, and realize I'd have paid full price for it. After playing Eldritch, I bought a couple more copies to give to friends. :D Independent "let's play" videos and actual top-site reviews will also make a huge difference for you , and will help you rise above the din of trollers more easily.

Smoothing out the controls and adding more content (e.g. a multiplayer vs mode or additional levels) would also draw in some fence-sitters like me, but you're not obligated to do that.

As tempting as it is to jump on the band wagon and imagine there's some evil developer conspiracy to silence dissidents, I remember when the achievement lobbyists hit the forums of some of my fav games. They tried to bully the developers into adding achievements "or they wouldn't buy the game and would tell all their friends not to buy it", etc (other threats were more offensive and bullying, but are not worth repeating here).

You have to be careful about how swayed you are by comments like "Game isn't worth buying without [X]", where you fill [X] with any feature imaginable (achievements, iron sights, facebook tie-ins, modding, online multiplayer, cat-based weaponry, unicorn alchemists, etc). A game cannot have all possible features and still get out the door (and be cohesive in its final form). You've gotta pick your battles and be ready to draw lines to keep above water, in both finances and sanity... while still addressing the stuff that will actually pull in more players and advance the game forward.

So yea, I get it. Good luck out there, man!
[OSD]TaurenTom Feb 17 @ 3:46pm 
@dsmart as I recall, you're violating the Steam Online Conduct "Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others." by even offering to post publicly banned posts which would result in ridicule of steam users. (This is in reference to your link in this post "Everyone please read"

Anyways, was looking at the game recently thanks to all the PR that's been drummed up about this. Any publicity is good publicity they say. I do strongly agree with the original author of this thread, and will note that it is very disheartening to hear that there seems to be a large influx of bans related to game feedback and reviews.

Now, before anything happens to this post, please bear in mind a screen cap of this post will be made and backed up to the TauRadio servers for general practices purposes. And it shall be stated, that this is in no way shape or form a manner of trolling, but merely observations by a show host and convention staffer who loves dealing with electronic media and gaming in general.
dsmart  [developer] Feb 17 @ 5:16pm 
Originally posted by OSDTaurenTom:
@dsmart as I recall, you're violating the Steam Online Conduct "Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others." by even offering to post publicly banned posts which would result in ridicule of steam users. (This is in reference to your link in this post "Everyone please read"

I am not an attorney and don't play one on TV. However, I am quite certain that what you posted above has nothing to do with what I said in that URL.

To save the trouble, I will just quote the whole thing (from my link) here for completeness.

OK, so we've figured out that we can look at the ban details and take screen caps of the post/thread that got people banned.

So we're going to screen cap all of them, then restore those people who were banned by mistake (if that in fact happened).

Then I'm going to create a thread and post all the screen caps to show everyone else what we've been dealing with and that we haven't been banning people unless they were trolling, being abusive, rude or otherwise violating the Steam community rules and guidelines for posting.

This has absolutely nothing to do with what you just said. And there is no violation.

And if you read the myriad of threads (yes, it's all convoluted and messed up now, which is what happens when, well people troll across threads, go off-topic, things get lost in the fray etc), you will see that the reason for me saying that I was even going to do that - here on Steam forums and nowhere else - was because I wanted to dispel all this nonsense that's going around that we are deleting threads and banning people for posting opinions. It is categorically untrue. In fact, it is false. Period.

And so, after being tired of having to say that over and over, I felt that the best way to put an end to that, was to do exactly as I said in that except. Which is no different from just undeleting - thus restoring - the posts and threads - since you can do that on these forums due to the fact that deleted posts/threads don't disappear and they can still be seen by admins and mods. However, doing so will resurrect a bunch of posts buried deep within threads.

So archiving them in screen shots works best because when you ban someone, the details section of that deleted post or banned person, is excerpted and stored. So if you ban someone or delete their thread for abuse, you can click on details to reveal what they did. Then you can either restore it or leave in that state. And it is in the details (which also shows who banned them, deleted the post/thread etc) info revealed, that you can take a screen shot of as evidence of the violation.

Also, if you actually took the time to review some of the threads we left standing, you will see that people were - in fact - taking screen shots of posts/threads and posting them on sites external to Steam. Did you advise those people of their follies too?

Anyway, you probably get the point now and where this is going.

The Steam forums are public. There is nothing stopping anyone from posting stuff here on external sites. What you cited above, has nothing to do with the forums - which has its own set of guidelines (some of which you actually violated* with your post btw) right here:

Rules and Guidelines for Steam Community Discussions

* Here, let me list them. Remember, you started this.

Do not do any of the following:

  • Derail a thread's topic
  • Openly argue with a moderator
  • No Backseat Moderating: Let the moderators do the moderating. Backseat moderating is when people who are not moderators try to enforce the forum rules. If you see a person breaking the rules, take advantage of the Report () button or simply ignore the offensive post(s) or thread.

Then we move on to the Steam Online Conduct

You will not:

  • Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.
  • Create a false identity for the purpose of misleading others.

Several people violated both of the above - repeatedly. And we can prove it. For example see this and this. Let me know if you want more; there are many more where those came from.

And last but not the least, the Steam Subscriber Agreement

4. ONLINE CONDUCT, CHEATING AND ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR

  • You agree that you will be personally responsible for the use of your Account and for all of the communication and activity on Steam that results from use of your Account. Your online conduct and interaction with other Subscribers should be guided by common sense and basic etiquette.

and will note that it is very disheartening to hear that there seems to be a large influx of bans related to game feedback and reviews.

It would be even more disheartening if it were, you know, actually true. It's false. Period. End of story.

And as indicated above, I can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. But then you decided that by doing so, I was in violation of Steam Online Conduct, which is as hilarious as it sounds.

Especially when you consider that, you're, well wrong. And unlike most - people like me - actually READ stuff like that. Because, believe it or not, we don't act with impunity and certainly won't do anything to tarnish our relationship with a business partner who we've had a very good relationship with for many years. I'm not stupid. And that's why I'm still in business.

Now, before anything happens to this post, please bear in mind a screen cap of this post will be made and backed up to the TauRadio servers for general practices purposes.

So, aside from the fact that your veiled threat is largely meaningless and uncalled for, what you're suggesting above is exactly what you came here to tell me I was doing in violation of Steam's code of conduct. So double standards then?

And it shall be stated, that this is in no way shape or form a manner of trolling,

Duly noted.

but merely observations by a show host and convention staffer who loves dealing with electronic media and gaming in general.

Also irrelevant. Who you are and what you do has no basis on this discussion. Unless you think that without it, you won't be taken seriously - or better yet, nobody would dare engage and point out the many flaws in your missive. But thanks for letting us know.

Regardless, if you're in that sector, then you should know that, jumping into something like this - without getting all the facts - especially when we're talking about a, you know, gaming forum, is foolish. At best.

Just because a bunch of - now banned - people go out there and cry foul - like they always do - doesn't mean that they were right. It simply doesn't work that way. And the other gaming forums are evidence of that since I'm not the first - nor will I be the last - dev to be subjected to stuff like this. I just so happen to be one the very few who simply won't stand for it.

Just because it's on the Internet, doesn't make it true. At all.

ps: It is also curious - and unsurprising - that you are friends with brownie and two other people who were the first be banned here. Just saying.
Last edited by dsmart; Feb 17 @ 5:18pm
dsmart  [developer] Feb 17 @ 5:45pm 
Originally posted by Wazat1:
Sounds like you have your hands full. :(

It's the nature of the beast unfortunately. But as they say, this too shall pass.

Smoothing out the controls and adding more content (e.g. a multiplayer vs mode or additional levels) would also draw in some fence-sitters like me, but you're not obligated to do that.

We're actually looking into some issues with some gestures (pinch/zoom etc) on some mobile devices, as well as some NPC behaviors which appear to be level specific. We expect to roll out an update next month. But first, we're releasing a demo later this week as announced here.

You have to be careful about how swayed you are by comments like "Game isn't worth buying without [X]", where you fill [X] with any feature imaginable (achievements, iron sights, facebook tie-ins, modding, online multiplayer, cat-based weaponry, unicorn alchemists, etc). A game cannot have all possible features and still get out the door (and be cohesive in its final form). You've gotta pick your battles and be ready to draw lines to keep above water, in both finances and sanity... while still addressing the stuff that will actually pull in more players and advance the game forward.

Yep pretty much. But I did cave in on doing a PC demo though. So there is that. :)

So yea, I get it. Good luck out there, man!

Thanks man. And seriously, thanks for your unbiased and eloquent post.
[OSD]TaurenTom Feb 17 @ 5:46pm 
Dear dsmart,

It appears you are showing an incredible amount of bias here. Especially presuming that because I am a friend with brownie that my views are in line with his or others whom have been critical of your game. This presumption has led me to one simple belief (substantiated by the fact that you immediately removed Cabro's post, but not fast enough to prevent me from screen shotting it after being informed by alternate channels) you are egotistical and hurt.

I'm sorry to say, but I shall no longer be doing a review for your game. I shall be exploring the fact that you insisted on trawling my limited friends list, but yet you don't touch on any of my past dealings with TenTonHammer, Jesse Cox or any other media member. You instead chose to make an extremely heavy handed move to dismiss my post and thereby validate your own opinion.

If being friends with one person whom has been critical of your software is going to get a neutral party this kind of backlash, then I shall instead be publishing a gamer beware of all software based upon ethics and general practices.

This post has been archived to both TauRadio and Order of the Silver Dragons servers in order to ensure the safety of these open ended reviews.

Good day to you sir,
Thomas L. Fielding
Owner of TauRadio
Guild Master of Order of the Silver Dragons
Retired Production and Community Liason of Original Media For Gamers
Retired Production and Community Liason of VTW Productions
Contributor to Reddit
Podcaster and Host of The CattleClysm
*corrected sp error
Last edited by [OSD]TaurenTom; Feb 17 @ 5:49pm
Motoki Feb 17 @ 5:58pm 
Originally posted by Wazat1:
There are several games I decided to avoid because I saw the dev being too protective of his baby, or wielding the ban hammer too righteously and too fervently. That is a dangerous turn-off. Games I might have otherwise bought dropped off my list when I got the sense the devs were hostile.

I just want to say that I also do the same. When I am deciding on whether or not to buy a new game on Steam I am unfamiliar with I have learned to check the forums and see how the developer is behaving. If there is lots of censorship and banning whatever the excuse used and it seems like only positive posts are allowed that is a huge red flag for me and I will not buy the game.

If the two of us make purchasing decisions this way I have no doubt there are others as well. Since Valve has handed the keys to the forums to developers, who are obviously not an impartial party, I feel it necessarily to investigate how the community and in particular criticism is being handled.

Originally posted by Wazat1:
Yes the mob can do terrible things to your game's reputation, and you need to wield your PR tools to protect your game's image. But when you swing the hammer too hard or too wide, you attract more attention for that than anything the mob was piling on... and then the mob really gets incensed.

Exaclty. When people get banned and posts get deleted all it does is stir the pot and create a controversy that becomes more the center of attention than the game itself.

Originally posted by dsmart:
Just because it's on the Internet, doesn't make it true. At all.

That goes both ways and also applies to statments you've made calling people trolls and stating their posts and reviews were abusive.

Originally posted by dsmart:
ps: It is also curious - and unsurprising - that you are friends with brownie and two other people who were the first be banned here. Just saying.

Now you are getting personal and making implications and assumptions about things you know nothing about.

If you would like imagine that every person who makes a negative comment toward you or your game is part of a clique of trolls out to get you that is certainly your perogative however the fact that one person is internet friends with the next (a designation that means very little) is proof of nothing.
Wazat1 Feb 17 @ 8:08pm 
Hrm... Interesting watching this. And damn hard to figure out intentions.

Motoki:
It's very tricky to judge a game based on its forum's hostility. It might be a problem dev, or it might be a storm of trolls driving the dev to his limits. The big problem is that the posters on the forum enjoy relative anonymity -- even if they get banned from that particular game's forum, they have relatively little skin in the game. Some will even make dummy accounts to engage in shadow puppetry, or get their friends to all pile on (meat puppetry). Why? Because trolling is fun, or so I hear. People literally cool off after a hard day by picking fights with others, driving them to their limits, and riding the power fantasy. And this is easier and safer to do online than anywhere else.

So when I see a game getting firestormed and the dev nuking the community from orbit, I don't know who started what. You generally have to step away and let things pan out for a while to watch what's really happening. It might be a thin-skinned or toxic dev, it might be psychopathic trolls seizing on the latest passing fad, or it might be both.

dsmart:
So... identifying individual trolls is one thing and we could talk all day about how exactly to do that, but instead let's talk about how to actually engage a mixed community, a mixture of some trolls and some legitimate customers and onlookers. I think my avatar of Bill the Cat looking thoughtful lends me all the credibility as an armchair strategist that I need, so let's do this. :D


I'm reminded of a lecture from The Great Courses on the strategy of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism (Lecture 22 of Masters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers[www.thegreatcourses.com]). It talks about the strategy of terrorists, insurgents, etc and those who fight them, and I think it has fascinating parallels to this situation because of how the strategies on both sides play out. I'm going to talk about insurgents because terrorist is a term that may not be appropriate for an analogy to trolls, and because insurgent is a more neutral term that doesn't necessarily imply evil (sometimes insurgents are fighting a corrupt government, while other times they're the corrupt ones). With that aside, onwards.


Let's imagine we're running a country. When you have a mob of insurgents working against you, you're technically fighting a losing game right out of the door. Every action the insurgents make is designed to make you misstep and lose face in the eyes of the population. Every move in the game will extract a price from you, or at best, leave you even. That's their goal. They're under-resourced to wage a true war, but if they can discredit you, or especially get you to turn the people against you with your response, they win. Every time you're caught overreacting, they score points. Every innocent civilian killed by mortar fired scores them points. And even when they directly kill civilians and take responsibility, that can score them points too. Nearly every action the insurgents can take will damage you, and any action you take (including inaction) will often cost you as well.

However, that doesn't mean counter-insurgents have no viable strategy. They will pay a price no matter what they do, but they can often minimize the price they pay over the long term and eventually win the war with some very carefully measured responses that serve their higher strategy.

A counter-insurgency's goal is usually not to crush, demolish or hunt the insurgents down to the last man. That's only a strategy you embrace when things get really bad, and you're willing to pay a truly high cost in lives and reputation in pursuing such a war (it is usually lost, btw). Instead, you want to minimize damage to your reputation, infrastructure, etc and minimize loss of lives; all while you wait as the insurgents burn themselves out. Often they run out of steam, membership, enthusiasm, etc and they reveal that they actually had no staying power once they stopped being fed. Turning their strategy against them is an especially viable goal if you can do it -- the more aggressive they become, and the more measured and respectable a response you can afford to mete out, then the more they lose face with the population and you gain face.

And insurgency is a war of reputation. Bullets are flying, people have a very real intent to kill and hurt and destroy; but you can, in fact, win every single battle and still lose the war. Focusing on winning individual fights is a mistake. Sometimes choosing to lose one battle wins you the war. This is counter-intuitive, many people and even nations don't have it figured out. It's hard to implement and hold to the strategy once you're in the thick of things. But it's important to fight the war on terms you define yourself, not on your enemy's terms. And you need to have a good idea of your goal and how every action you take serves that goal in both the long and short run.

The parallels to internet forums are meaningful -- it's not a perfect analogy, but we can draw lessons here. Trolls are not terrorists or trying to topple a national government (well... okay no, I won't make that joke), but they are a generally faceless (anonymous and/or facing low risk) component blended into a larger population. And they are waging a war of reputation. They are trying to damage your game's image, and they're especially trying to bait you into engaging them.

Why? Sometimes because they have a legitimate bone to pick with you. Other times, because trolling is fun. Or because they really want to be right and win a war against someone, feel big. Some people are just toxic to start, and others get angry and want to fight the battle to the finish, no matter how far away from the original intent they stray. And the relative anonymity and level of separation provided by the internet is emboldening, empowering. People who like to pick fights and hurt others will do so more often and more aggressively in a wild west environment like this.

What's important is you don't stoop to sharing their motives or tactics, or falling for their tricks. You need to pick and hold on to a solid counter-troll strategy that will work, and then mold your every action to that long-term goal. Long, hostile, offended, dramatic, or hurt posts only feed this enemy. It grows stronger and bolder each time it provokes a response from you that it likes, even if you deal a harmful blow to it in the process. In video game terms, you need to direct those attacks so that you're weakening your enemy, instead of powering it up.


And last of all I feel I should reference hitler, for no other reason than to satisfy Goodwin's Law. Stupid laws telling me what to do.


I hope that helps both the community and devs who are grappling with this issue.
dsmart  [developer] Feb 18 @ 4:10am 
Originally posted by OSDTaurenTom:
If being friends with one person whom has been critical of your software is going to get a neutral party this kind of backlash, then I shall instead be publishing a gamer beware of all software based upon ethics and general practices.

Aside from the fact that - once again - it is easy to cry foul, especially with how you intentionally showed up here - and in your first post, proceeded to tell me that I was doing something illegal, it is easy to draw that conclusion that my response had anything to do with your association with brownie. It doesn't. Brownie didn't even get a response (to his violations) that spanned three lines.

In fact, I read your profile before I even posted (something that I thought about long and hard about before even doing it) and it was said association that finally made me decide to do it. Why? Because it is exactly what you lot have been doing here since last week. All of you.

There is nothing wrong with using associations to identify someone's intentions, premise and/or prose. That's how sociology works. That's how law enforcement works. That's how job applications work. That's how anything related to social standing works.

And you are still name dropping, forgetting that it is patently meaningless to me. If you think any of that is of any consequence - to me - whatsoever - then you clearly know absolutely nothing about me.

You've said your piece, I've stated mine. Hopefully we are done here now and nothing further needs to be said.
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