A couple of days ago I suggested a few names in the Name a Unicorn contest for Solomon's General Store that was announced on the Runescape Facebook page (Heart-Crusher Hoofdoom and Scythemane the Dream-Wrecker). It didn't show anywhere on the main website, as it was only a quick little 24 hour contest. Though they said the best name will appear in the new content, they warned us that if they didn't find any names that jumped out at them as being absolutely perfect, they would pick their own.
Funnily enough, I noticed that contest while browsing through the general forums and found lots of MLP rants. Quick rant out to those guys: Seriously? The concept art doesn't look a thing like those critters. Hasbro does not own any and all possible renditions of young, adorable-looking horses, you know!
Anyways, I thought it was a cool win-win. The artists at Jagex get a ton of free name samples, and we get to contribute to the game in the hopes that we can confidently say we contributed to that content (yay)! And heck, if my suggestions actually made it in, I'm totally buying Hoofdoom. Now, if they add a "Mount" right-click option... actually, here's kind of hoping they don't.
I personally like these contests. This take on producing new content that the majority of players will approve of. It's like getting player feedback and adjusting the content before it's actually released. Far better than letting it out without warning, getting swamped by complaints, and having to quickly adjust it then to get the players to shut up. And goodness knows, I've seen that sort of thing happen in the past quite a bit. I remember we lost an inventory interface and chat typeset update in less than two days because of the complaints. And thank goodness too; they were atrocious.
Call it lazy, call it unprofessional, I call it genius. Isn't the core passion of the many thousands of game-makers out there to create their own content? Surely it's not to purely to make easy money, because then you've got big companies like Activision and Ubisoft for that (just kidding; I'm sure you guys are just as passionate about making awesome games as we are). Who doesn't like to see their great ideas come to life in front of them?
A lot of research and planning goes into these things. What if the developers at Jagex suddenly decided to go with every idea posted or invented? They'd need a team the size of their player-base just to keep up with the new content! I myself am a developer, and I understand well how plans and timelines go. They mentioned in a Behind the Scenes video a while back they've got 6 years of content all planned and lined up. I believe that 100%, and am amazed they're still finding time to create these smaller in-between things.
Content contests are a very good thing. You will have a hard time convincing me otherwise.
This is happening a lot not only with content (quest NPCs, items, etc), but also with Solomon's General store. I approve of that as well. It's turning into more of a community service where they basically say, "Everybody, you can pay $X dollars to have what you actually want in-game" rather than a generic "cool stuff for cash" ploy. With a lot of leeway, of course. Again, lots of players want stuff, and there are so many tastes out there it's impossible to cater towards all desires. Otherwise everybody would all wear the exact same outfit.
So here's a few suggestions for that:
First, why not make Solomon's Shop purely about players and leave Loyalty Rewards completely up to the Jagex Designers. Let the players vote on and buy almost exactly what they want in the shop determined by contests and the like. Then, when the Jagex Designers get great ideas themselves (eg; those regal skeleton / ogre / drakewing outfits), they can add it to the store for Loyalty Points so almost any member player can access it.
Secondly, rather then hold contests for pre-determined things like "Name a Unicorn", there should instead be a few more voting sessions towards, for example, what "kind" of pet we want to see in the future (unicorns being one of them), and then extend on names after. A quick 24-hour vote is all it takes; there will be a lot of players. And if nobody likes it or votes... maybe don't do it. Have a backup, new contest, rinse and repeat.
Lastly, these contests really should be broadcasted in-game rather than just in Facebook / Twitter. Instead of a popup advertising the new Solomon's store and the in-game content we've logged in to check out in the first place, it should instead be the "poll of the day", which a clickable link to jump to the contest page or forum. After scrolling through Facebook, I didn't even realize half these contests came out because I usually play from the client.
Until next time,
This was originally posted as an Informer Runescape