Friday, April 18, 2008

Community participation is key to game loyalty and success

For Myla P. Rumbaoa, Rising Force Online (RF) community manager, a passionate and loyal gaming community is consist of players who stay and care for the game. "They help the community and the game master (GM) team - to improve and make the game a better place for the players. What makes a game successful is through its community."

RF Online is considered one of the biggest online gaming communities with 1 million registered accounts. Myla takes care of the game’s community through events in real life and in game. She explained, "Community managers (CM) put “soul” to the game to make the players happy, stay in the game and keep them on playing."

"Also, they serve as a window between the community and the team. They keep close communication to hear out their concerns and problems. In relation to this, CMs must have immeasurable amount of patience and understanding. Taking a lot of complaints and bad mouthing from players is no joke."

To keep players passionate, according to Myla, RF Online has the following programs to keep the community engaged:
  • The Vanguards Program – it’s a player volunteer program of which they serve as GM assistants. They serve as another alley to channel player’s concern to the GM team. Since the players know they the Vanguards are also players, the Vanguards know how to communicate to them. This program proves that there are a player who wants to help the RF community without asking anything in return.

  • The Novus Tour – an in-game tour initiated by vanguards. Characters from level 5 to 15 will be given a free tour to their respective race. They will be oriented on the game mechanics like player versus player (PVP) where an actual PVP is acted. At the end of the tour, the participants will be given items that will help their character.

  • Skirmish – a real-life event that supports café mainly to promote their café and at the same time serves a mini eyeball to RF players. The main attraction of this event is the 5 on 5 tournament. Aside from that there’s the noob race and raffle.

  • Novus Elite Squad Tournament (NEST) – yearly tournament done during LU! Live. It’s a championship match between Novus Chip Assault Squad (NCAS) and City Under Siege (CUS) Champions. Cash and in-game prizes awaits for the NEST Champion.

  • Novus Underground League – Still under testing, it's a small skirmish done in-game but this time it’s a player initiated match. A player will open a challenge for an opponent. And once a challenger accepts, they will be summoned to a private place and there a GM will referee the match. A video will be taken to be posted.
For CMs like Myla, a lot of work has to be done to contribute in building up that passion. "Think like a player" is important she said. "But then “thinking” like a player will barely suffice to know what is needed to build up that passion. Although it should be given that a CM must be a player, but with all the workload you need to do, sometimes you forget that you were a player. So I’ll say, take time to play your game and be a player! Mingle with your conmmunity enough to know what they need and what they think and only then you will know."

With Myla's passion, the RF Online community has its own distinction from other games today. "One proof is the Vanguards program. Another involves the game’s system – archon system and the 3RvR (3 race vs race). With the archon system, players vote for their racial leader. At this point, it’s not the GM who solely controls the community but the players themselves. The 3 race vs race brings out the camaraderie and cooperation of the race especially during chip wars. The “no man is an island” best applies to this game. You cannot make your character strong or kill another race alone. Everybody needs each other because in the end, they need to face the battle field and dominate Novus."