Inside Choices: Growing from “Rant Ahead, Be Aware”
While looking through Tumblr posts this week, one of the longer response posts caught my eye. The post was well written and though titled “Rant ahead”, was a well reasoned commentary on things that bother the post’s author. Since the post brought up many points that other players have also expressed, I thought replying as a blog post so everyone has a chance to see the response would be appropriate.
Thank you to lauraotaku2234 both for your thoughts and for permission to share it in our blog. The post is bolded below.
From the Tumblr post “Rant ahead, be aware”:
I just love how Pixelberry reblogs fanart and nice messages about the game. But when fans are actually pointing out errors and mistake the game has done… they just ignore it. They have decided to close a bubble to them.
This is a very fair point. Our team really does read a lot of the feedback generated by our players. But even though we may be working on fixes or things that address the critiques, most of the time people on our team don’t give a firm answer for fear of making a situation worse or suggesting something that might end up not happening in the future. Because I lead the team, I have a lot more latitude in responding to critiques, but I’ve been focused on a lot of different projects which means that I haven’t responded as often as I should.
I hope this post helps to provide some more light on many of the below issues.
Now, there is a difference between the: “We want more diamond options” and the “James situation”. Here’s why:
On the diamond thing, I doubt PB will change that, mainly because they get their money from us buying diamonds, the more options we get, the least money they make. So its understandable. Yet, the money they make is supposedly to get better staff and equipment so the game can improve and be better. A year has already passed and I still can’t find what the improvement is or was.
You’re correct, it is harder for us to change the diamond economy. We have been experimenting with different options that try to balance our ability with making money and giving players a better experience. As a player, myself, I totally get the complaints. I don’t have anything new to announce right now, but we are working on different features and will see if things like rewarding diamonds for watching ads will help in providing that balance.
It also makes sense that you and other players can’t find what improvements have been made. But I’m hoping that is partially because we’ve been slowly building and rolling out improvements over time and that you’ve gotten used to some of those changes.
One of our most popular requests is launching more weekly content. And in the past year, the biggest change we’ve made by far is expanding from 3 books at launch to a much more robust library. When we first launched Choices, we had about 10 people writing with two new chapters per week. We now have over 30 writers and sometimes release as many as 6 new chapters a week with other new series in production, too. Along with all these writers, we’ve added more artists, producers, testers, and other roles to increasing our capacity for weekly storytelling.
It’s something you can’t see, but when I walk through the doors into our offices, I love hearing the buzz in our office and seeing all the people working together on Choices. And when all the writers assemble for their weekly “Writer’s Meeting,” I still get the chills seeing so many writers gathered around a long table talking about how they can improve their craft together.
So, I hope you really do believe we’ve been investing a lot in growing our team because we treat the future of Choices very seriously.
(As an aside, some people on the team have suggested maybe doing a Fan meet-up in the office - in the Bay Area in California - or maybe sending writers to different book conferences next year, so that maybe some of you can see that growth in person, too.)
Now… The James thing. PB common, you can do better than that. I wouldn’t be upset if you they gave us an actual reason as of why. Also, we need an explanation about what “other characters” means. Will the rest of the character change too? Will it only be a few one’s? I’m replaying every single finished book to find what other faces may have been changed. It has to be done, I don’t want to play The Royal Romance to find you changed Hana’s character appearance just… because.
You are right. We should have told you about the change ahead of time. Also, I wish I could go into more details about the change, but in my previous post, I tried to say as much about why we made the change as I already could. We know this really upset many of you. We understand. It’s our bad for disappointing you.
In regards to “other characters”, we have not rolled out the changes yet, but our Tumblr fandom is pretty clued into what other characters will likely be changed. We will make specific references to those characters when it happens. We will not be changing any other Love Interests (LIs), so Hana and others are safe.
The only book I’m not replaying is ROE, why? Because is a waste to my keys and time. The storyline got old really fast. It was actually a really good story, and I remember the First Book Finale actually left people with their mouths open, but they ruined it when they brought a third book, and now a fourth. I mean, it’s a plot that can be solved with a Snap. Adding more tasks as a way of length[en]ing the story was a stupid move and only brought fans rage. Most fans agree with me when I say: Endless Summer should have as many books as The Freshman, The Crown and The Flame shouldn’t have ended in the third book, The Haunting of Braidwood Manor should’ve been longer, Most Wanted deserves a second book, and even tho The Freshman is my favorite series, The Sophomore plot isn’t going anywhere, it’s like Love Hacks at its beginnings and it’s tiring.
As I mentioned before, Most Wanted 2 must happen. It’s the book every fan is waiting for, including me. It has an amazing storyline with amazing characters, yet, they decided to shut it out, and even erase it from their AppStore/PlayStore menu.
It’s pretty clear that much of the Tumblr fandom has the least love for Rules of Engagement (ROE.) But we have other fan groups and other people who really like this series. Just as we actively try to promote diversity in our characters, we do try to balance the resources we put into genres for various fandoms and individuals playing through our stories. We aim to have something for everyone, and all of our writers pour their hearts into everything they work on.
As the RoE series wrapped up, the writers of ROE moved on to a “mini-book” that would tie the series up in the right way. The book will probably finish too quickly for fans of ROE and not fast enough for fans of other series, but this book length fit the purposes of the story arc. Also because we have such a wide variety of writers, each with their unique storytelling talents and skills, continuing a romance series such as RoE doesn’t actually affect some Tumblr fandom favorites, like Endless Summer or Most Wanted.
Part of what we’re trying to do with Choices is to try new series and genres which is why we sometimes will end, or pause a series faster than fans want so that we can try new things. Most Wanted didn’t do as well financially as our other two launch series, so we moved that team onto Endless Summer and LoveHacks, where they could excel at leading new projects. One of those writers, Andrew, has moved onto managing another project. But Luke continues to be a part of Book 2 and 3 of Endless Summer (which we are aiming to start releasing in December.) And Owen is working on a secret new project, now that LoveHacks has completed!
I really do hope and think that when it makes sense, we will start work on Most Wanted 2. But it will be a matter of the right timing in terms of having one or more of the original team ready and balancing the start of Most Wanted 2 versus other new series we want to start. Dave and Sam will eventually return.
I respect Pixelberry as a company a lot. But with these changes and empty storylines, I just wonder where the old Pixelberry went. It seems like they just ran out of imagination to make stories, so they just continue old ones and create new ones with similar plots but shorter books that in the end everyone likes.
Thank you for respecting us. It’s clear in the thoughtfulness of your “rant” and in the praises and critiques of our fandom. Even when you think we’re ignoring you, we hear many, many of the messages. And I admit that some of the critiques really hurt and sometimes the ones that hurt the most are the ones that ring the most true. But we also recognize the strength of the critiques often is also a measure of how much our fandom cares.
I really, truly hope that as we release new chapters, books, and series that you’ll see that the creative wells of our teams has not run dry. And when a writer is being blocked, a designer is confused by the path forward, or a tester doesn’t know how to reproduce a problem, the creativity of the fandom often breaks that block, clears the path, and helps us keep moving forward. Whether it’s beautiful art, all the “Jomes” jokes, Brian’s Ask Blogs, the many forms of Cetus, faceclaims (yes, it’s okay to keep doing them), and other posts, your creativity motivates us.
As you continue to share on Tumblr or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, we’ll continue reading, digesting, and modifying our plans. But if you have specific problems or want to ensure we hear what you have to say, I encourage you to contact us directly via our in-game Help. Or if the game is down, reach out via Contact us via our website. We have experienced Player Specialists who listen, solve, tally, describe, and share your thoughts with the right people on our team. They are the first to alert the rest of the team to major problems and Trina, the leader of that team, also shares motivating, poignant, or key messages to the whole studio. Also you can tweet story related questions to @PlayChoices. Jessica will often check with individual writing teams to see if it’s something they can answer.
To all of our fandom everywhere, thank you for your love. We understood that love isn’t just fun and compliments, but it also comes with teasing and obstacles. And the best love comes with hard talks, accountability, and growth. When we stumble, we promise to honor our side of the relationship by continuing to learn and grow. And we hope that you will continue to rant, tease, and grow with us.
On behalf of our whole team,