There's a lovely thread at the US forum named "I need a hug" that steadily is growing. It's not as big as the Epic Protest Thread, but it's measuring + 1000 posts and more hugs are still incoming.
Netahaera is has joined the hugging party a couple of times and intends to come back:
"For the record, I am pro-hug and will hug again. Be warned."
And I just want to chime in and add to the hugging too in an effort to make up for whatever happened and get back things as they used to be.
Over the weekend I've pondered a bit more over what was written and said the past week. I've re-read my posts and asked myself if I've been too harsh. Was it unfair of me to say that I've lost a bit of the trust for Blizzard? What part have I in the fact that the community seems to be split in half? One long-time reader said in a comment he'd never set is foot in this inn again due to my childish writing about this. Maybe he was right?
After thinking it over, I've come to the conclusion that my trust in Blizzard as a part of Blizzard-Activision company is damaged and that I stand for the posts I've written. Maybe my words were little bit too strong sometimes, but it reflects the deep concerns I've had over this.
This forum-identity incident has made me wonder if some of the people in charge of this colossus are so keen on looking into business opportunities connected to social networking, such as Facebook, that it might take overhand over the ambitions from others within the company to create gorgeous games and fantasy worlds. I know others have said this for a long time, but it wasn't until now that I fully understood what they meant. And there's your trust issue.
There are other players - not the least of the more open minded Facebook generations, who welcome this development. I have the fullest respect for you and you have every right to express this opinion. I think those who support the idea will get their way eventually. This is where it's heading and resistance is probably futile. And yet we who don't like it speak up. Because if we didn't say anything, how would they know that we cared at all?
Trusting the employees?
I've also reached the conclusion that I haven't lost my trust and my love for many of the Blizzard employees. I think they're making a fantastic job, trying to keep a steady course in the chaos of expectations and wishes from players, shareholders and others, trying to think about what's best for the game in the long run and make as good decisions as they can. Sometimes they need to compromise with their gaming ideals to make sure that the business has a sound economy. Hence sparkling ponies. I can understand and accept this and I hold nothing against them for it.
I trust the game developers. I trust the blue posters, like Nethaera and Bashiok. I'm skeptical to Bob Kotick, especially after reading so many statements about his - to me - rather appalling and strange view on how to handle his human resources - the employees. I'm skeptical to those other nameless people, not necessarily in the Blizzard building, who have an agenda which I think has very little to do with the interests of the gaming community.
In this storm that was, I believe - and I know this is speculation, but that's what I think - that many of those we trust at Blizzard secretly agreed that this was a stupid idea, but they were naturally prevented from saying anything about it.
Reading the happy, relieved posts now from the blues, I can't help thinking that they were with us all the time. They assure us over and over again that they really were listening all the time this was going on, making sure that all the feedback was sent forward into the organization to the decision makers. And now they hug us.
Views among the staff
Cruising the net I found a post that supports this view. Originally it was posted in the US thread on the Real ID issue, as post number 35 821. Since then it's been removed, I found it at a forum, thanks to a link from some blog, unfortunately I can't remember which one. Anyway. Take it for what it is: second hand information that I definitely wouldn't post if I wrote this in the role of a journalist. But I'm not. I'm a blogger and I think it sounds believable enough to refer it.
Nachtjäger, Suramar, 59 Night Elf Death Knight post 35821 wrote:
"Got in touch with my ex-flatmate, whose sister works as a GM for Blizzard, to see what the internal buzz on this was. Apparently, at the moment the employees are largely as pissed as the players, and she stated that despite attempts to keep it hushed, it has become known that the big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are. Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.If this is true, I must say that I feel truly sorry for the employees. I know they're professionals, this is what they're paid for, but it's never fun to stand up and take the shit consequences for a decision that you never supported in the first place. If you're a manager, you've probably got a salary that compensates for it. But I doubt that the blue posters have it.
It's still going ahead, however (and here's where in-house rumours and hearsay really start coming into play): from what they've picked up, the Blizzard leads have been told in no uncertain terms that the non-gameplay-related direction of the game is working to a different blueprint now. GC and company are free to play with shiny new talent trees all they like, for example, but for the first time the decisions regarding Battle.net implementation, Real ID, and plans for the general acquisition of new players for the business are no longer in Blizzard's own hands, and that's not going down too well."
About internet bullying
I feel especially sorry for those who were plain bullied by Internet jerks.
It was without doubt an act of reckless bravery and misdirected loyalty from Bashiok to publish his real name. But we didn't need to take advantage of it. It would have been easy to use it as a deterring example, stating that "I now have this, this and this information about you Bashiok, is that really OK?", without actually publishing the information or start calling for pizza.
No one - regardless of position in the company - not even Kotick - deserves that kind of Internet stalking.
US players, feel free to give Bashiok a hug from me. I can't since EU players aren't allowed there. Don't ask me why, and I won't start to argue about it either. I've had enough of arguing about the forums for a little while.
But when we're done with the cuddling I hope we remember what we've realized about the direction the MMOs are taking.
If we don't like the way they're going we shouldn't hesitate to raise our voices There are definitely people who work for Blizzard who we trust. We must keep giving them good arguments so they can come out strong in their internal discussions. What appears to be harsh criticism can in fact be a supporting hug.
Finally: if you haven't read it already, head over to Psychochild and read his take on the Real ID/forum topic from an introvert/extrovert perspective. It brings some new light to why we felt as strong about this as we did.