This week, I have been working to promote my kinship’s event for a festival we are having on our server in LotRO. Many players enjoyed the Summer Festival Turbine did for us, so a couple of months ago, us players put together our own festival. It was a blast. We have tournaments (dueling), Monsterplay raids, parties, several RP events, a talent show (which I was part of) and other fun stuff. This time around, people seem to have lost interest. My race across Breeland (which I and others thought would be a fun idea) has gotten no takers. Moreover, the official thread for the event keeps getting buried on page two or three underneath the latest drama threads or other mindless crap.
Tobold’s had an interesting article about community in an MMO. He speculates that forums for the community aren’t really relevant to playing an MMO. I’m not sure. In spite of the troubles getting our festival started (which is more due to apathy than a bad community) I think the community sites help more than they hurt. Just like most forms of research on the Internet, you have to sift through a mountain of crap to find something valuable, but there are good peeps playing the game and posting on the forums. Good people read the forums whether they post or not. So the forums can serve as a tool outside of the game for like-minded people to at least get to know about each other.
Forums often seem like a magnet for the whiney or attention-starved morons that afflict video games with their presence, however, lost in the landslide of crap, there are smart people raising genuine concerns which could help improve a game. As Sanya brings up often in her blog, part of what good community managers do is sift through the junk to find the important or at least noteworthy stuff which they can then answer / take to other folks. The only way I see this happening easily and in mass is on a forum.
I have enjoyed the community team interaction with players from LotRO. They seem to have a genuine interest in the players and how to make the game fun. I am worried that they will place too much stock in the opinions of whiney little kids, but for the most part, they seem pretty well balanced.
So I'll tolerate the forum trolls and morons as long as I can get the occasional bit of useful info from the forums and as long as they provide a useful link between those outside the company building an MMO and those within. I just wish a couple of 'em would sign up for my bloody event. >_<