Why I left the Creators Faction
If you and I haven’t met, hello - I’m Red. I have been playing War Dragons since April 2015 and have been addicted ever since, even to the point where I had to put my iPhone 5 on an ice pack to keep it from overheating (since turning off Dragons wasn’t going to happen). I have made all the mistakes in the book, from a long base to building too high for my dragons and so much more. Currently, I am the Leader of Rulith, a Diamond 2 team, which is globally ranked 38 as I write this. In game, I actively maintain three accounts; a level 324 with three obsidian dragons, a level 270 which is breeding Nier, and my level 166 which is comfortably in Garnet. I was named “Dragon Lord of the Month” for May 2017 and am mostly known for my breeding paths in game, though I do a few other things. This past summer, I joined the Creators Faction, and this week I left. This open document is to answer questions, address some issues, and hopefully bring light to some things about the Faction.
If you are unaware of what the Creators Faction in, see the War Dragon Blog.
Before I continue with this document, I want to make some things very clear. Firstly, these generalizations of “Creators Faction Members” and “Pocket Gems Employees”, etc do not apply to every single individual. As with most things, there are outliers. However, for the purposes of this document I do not want to list any names and would rather keep generalizations to avoid any personal attacks.
Membership in the Creators Faction is, shall we say, selective yet absurd. I feel as if the intentions of the CF are wonderful, but the application has gone significantly downhill. Creators should be sought out for their knowledgeable contributions to the community to help, guide, share, and create good content for the good of the WD player base. Whether those contributions be on Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Twitch, Youtube, fan site, Line, official forums, or elsewhere, members of the CF should be the ones sharing information to help the community.
Recently, I believe membership in the CF has become more of a joke, for lack of a better word, than it was intended to be. Members grow busy, become lazy, and content slips. Announcing events should not be grounds to gain and retain membership into the Creators Faction, in my opinion. That should be a perk for the Creator to draw more attention to their outlet area. I get that marketing is a reason for Pocket Gems to have the CF, I am not ignorant to that idea, but that should not be the sole purpose of membership. It is listed on the description of the Creators Faction in the War Dragons Blog:
- “Create original content for War Dragons. Do you like to draw pictures of dragons? Create gameplay tutorials on YouTube? Stream on Twitch? If so, this program is for you! The sky’s the limit in terms of what you can create, and we’re looking forward to seeing what you guys can come up with!”
Where has this focus on creativity and gameplay content gone? It is my opinion that the Creators Factor, as a combination of both the Creators and Pocket Games, has grown stagnant and lazy with its content. Yes, there are still some fantastic Creators making fantastic content that is fresh and for the good of the community. Yes, there are some Pocket Gems employees who have not forgotten about the CF. However, as a whole, I feel the CF has grown into an “announce the next event” and do whatever on the side.
Continuing on this idea, I feel that the requirements of membership are entirely too relaxed. Creators should be held to a minimum expectation with their content where simply announcing the event does not matter count as a minimum contribution. Minimum content could be things such as traffic on a fan site, comics, original art, accurate and informative youtube videos, activity in fan groups on facebook, gameplay streams, blogs, guides, and other such content. To be completely honest, a large, large, large portion of the War Dragons community sees the Creators Faction as one of two things: “what is the next event” and an absolute joke. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the Creators, as I do feel they aren’t given the information, materials, and trust they are due, but it certainly doesn’t help to have people not pulling their weight. A group is only as strong as it’s weakest link.
In order to grow and become a more influential and trustworthy group, the Creators Faction must recruit the best of the best in the player base. The ability to gain membership to the Creators Faction currently revolves solely on the potential Creator knowing about the little talked about CF, applying themselves, and waiting for overworked PG employees to check in with them. I feel that it should be the responsibility of Creators to search out other helpful and/or creative people in the community and submit them to PG for review in addition to normal applications. Yes, this is done currently, but in no formal capacity.
Why should people start new content, especially the kind that takes an extraordinary amount of work? If Pocket Gems wants to see players create and maintain difficult items such as websites, podcasts, streams, artwork - there needs to be an incentive. Step one really needs to be to weed out the members who are in the Creators Faction, but do little to contribute or who make poor and inaccurate content. Step two needs to be trust in the Creators so they can make content so good that jealousy floods the community.
Stress, Respect, and Conversations
In the overall grand scheme of the handful of months in the CF, I went from a very hopeful, long-time player ready to help in a billion in one ways to a bitter, exhausted player who struggled to even play the game. I am glad there is diversity in the CF, but as this is a letter from me, I can only speak of my opinions and perspectives.
My specialties and involvements, so to speak, include the following: my big breeding guides, custom breeding guides, base adjustments, live streaming, youtube videos (eh), experienced “don’t do what I did” gameplay guides, leadership materials for new teams, a Line chat a couple hundred members, and a smattering of a few other things. Almost all of these things I did before becoming a Creator, and almost all of these things I will likely continue doing after I leave the CF because that is simply what I do. I am a third generation teacher in my blood and bones, and it is something I will never be able to turn off.
Despite my need to help people, I was growing increasingly overwhelmed by the number of people who needed such specific and time-consuming guidance. This is something that I feel few of the CF experience first hand due to my unique personality, longevity in the game, and involvements. The more I reflected on this, the more I realized that the stress has multiple contributors. The first is of course myself and my overwhelming need to help people and my inability to say no as I put myself out there to help as much as I could. This is an aspect of my life that I can control, and have taken steps to do so in order to lessen stress on myself, steps such as deleting my old Line in order to have more privacy and the starting project between me and a friend to have a more comprehensive set of “read this first” help guides.
However, the other factor to this I truly believe to be the lack of promotion of intelligent, comprehensive, accurate, and easily accessible guides for the War Dragons community. It has been entirely on the shoulders of content creators to promote their material and due to this, it has become nearly impossible for a new player to differentiate between good and bad advice. As a clear example, I still meet brand new players who use breeding guides such as Salamanca’s. That guide ends with gold tier, that’s how out of date it is. New and old players alike are left to their own devices to find guides and such to aid them in their progression. I don’t know why the simplest of ideas - vetted and accurate breeding guides, base guides, and the likes - are not made more easily accessible to players from within the game. I do think this was another major contributing factor to the stress on someone such as myself, someone who simply wants to help.
Along these same lines comes the lack of respect that I feel. I am not saying this is what is actually being given or not, simply that this is the way I feel. The Creators Faction has the following little blurb on the War Dragon Blog about the role of Creators:
- “Give us feedback. As part of the program, you’ll get a front row seat to the inner workings of War Dragons and have the chance to impact the game directly! We want to hear what you think about events, features, and updates.”
In the past few months I have been a Creator, I have been disappointed in the communication between the Creators and PG. In the ideal world, the CF should have some of the most brilliant minds in War Dragons - from guide creators to artists who all see the game from a unique but passionate perspective. I am exceptionally disappointed in how little communication happens between the CF and PG, which leads me more into this mindset of “I am just free marketing” which is an awful place to be for a passionate person with a personality such as my own. Why are the thoughts and opinions of the Creators not more heavily sought out? These are the people that are in the center of your game, the players who play like it’s their job, who love this game more than most people would classify as healthy. The lack of communication between PG and the CF has been exceptionally disheartening. I do feel like those select people who speak with the CF are amazing, but I feel like the people who should be talking to us rarely are. If this communication is opened up, it would also be an added incentive for players in the community to create content and push themselves in the hopes of joining a selective and exemplary Creators Faction.
One thing that I was shocked by when I formally joined the Creators Faction was the lack of information freely given to Creators. It went it spurts really - sometimes it was great, sometimes it was so lacking that it was a complete slap in the face. I recognize that the messengers to the CF cannot always give information ahead of time, but it has become downright ridiculous. I like to assume everyone has the best intentions, but it honestly has felt like the CF was an afterthought at best, in most situations.
From my own perspective of what areas I really settled into as a long-term player, these are the things I was expecting to see when I formally joined:
- HD Concept Art and gifs of all Dragons to use for creation. This list was kind of started, and sometimes had some additions, but was severely lacking. I was expecting, for instance, to see all new concept art for Season Divines so we could begin to make content but have a set release date and time so we didn’t spoil anything.
- Upcoming changes conversations before they were announced
- Access to a “subject to change” events calendar with the strict instructions to not release information until a set date and time so we could prepare content ahead of time.
- Access to data and information about some background coding, workings, and such for some items.
When I finally caved and joined, I was really looking forward to the insider information like what was advertised. It has been almost entirely disappointment.
Content and Rewards
The content and rewards relationship in the Creators Faction is a literal joke to me. The rewards themselves are lovely, and I am sure everyone who receives them is super thankful. However, what Creators earn rewards for is just getting out of hand. It seems silly to me that a twitter post of my announcing the new event would be equal in this system to my three hour live stream on the event itself or the massive HD map that took me hours to make. I was told there would be someone looking into making changes, but changes never came. I honestly feel like the content and rewards relationship and turned into a monstrosity of perpetuation to lazy behavior in order to receive free items.
This relationship is exceptionally broken and I do not feel it truly rewards talent, time, and skill like it should or was maybe meant to do. I did not feel motivated to make content in any way with the rewards system. In fact, my stubborn nature and my stressed/angry/hurt mentality actually saw the rewards system as a reason to just give up making new content or maintaining the content I did have.
At the end of the day, I just felt like the Creators Faction was this lovely idea that has been degraded and twisted into this sense of being used for free marketing, and being okay with that. Are there some Creators that I feel should have never been in the CF to start with due to poor content (even with good intentions)? Yes. Are there some Creators that I feel are under appreciated with so much amazing talent and content? Yes. Do I feel like Pocket Gems has done enough to support, encourage the growth of, and maintain this sliver of a community? Absolutely not.
Intentions and actions are two very different things. I feel that some people in Pocket Gems have amazing intentions, but wanting the best and working hard for the best are two very different things. I would like to quote a section of an interview with PG’s Michael Fedor:
- “After we saw how much our players appreciated having some agency in the game, we wanted to go further. Another idea we had, which admittedly is still pretty young, was to find more ways to empower them to create outside of the game.
- We made a Creators Faction. To do this, we identified creative people in the community and gave them all the resources and team access that we could. Our hope was that this would help them to wrap themselves up in the identity of the War Dragons.
- We are at the very beginning stages of this, but it’s one of our favorite projects. It’s already resulted in tons of amazing things like War Dragons fan fiction, comics, podcasts, websites, player-designed dragons in the game and, of course, cosplay.”
Dear Pocket Gems, what are your intentions with the Creators Faction and how do you plan to make your intentions match your actions? If you want your Creators to be encouraged to make content for you, give the resources you are promising in this interview. HD images, concept art, quick turn around conversations with employees who aren’t just messengers, game data, conversations that a new event is coming, and conversations about the experience in the game as a whole. If you want this to work, if you want the Creators Faction to be respected, to thrive, and to help your player base and your marketing team, then give your Creators the respect they deserve and keep your standards high.