There's a lot of toxicity on this forum, but there are also legitimate issues we'd like the team to address

There's a lot of toxicity on this forum, but there are also legitimate issues we'd like the team to address

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sillyrobot

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Hi!

I read the forums every day. :)

I wouldn't assume that because we're not saying anything, that we have nothing to say. The forums are a valuable
place to collect feedback from our Community, and I know for a fact the Community team, the Devs, and QA read
the forums regularly, even if they don't respond to every thread.

I will leave you with this:

View attachment 634482

People who decide to say nothing, by definition, have nothing to say. Heck many people who say lots have nothing to say. Listening is not talking. It can be good to listen. It can even be better to pursue active listening which shows the talkers that you are both listening and understanding what is said.

That said, listening at this point almost 2 years into grekulf's appointment only to discover that the game population is annoyed with almost 2 years of crap performance and broken games systems is breathtakingly awful. Now grekulf got dropped into the crapper by taking over just as the systems and performance was trashed at exactly the same time as the devs went silent and were unavailable for immediate fixes. It is unfortunate that his introduction coupled with his personal preference of more limited communication has brought us to this.
 
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Just one day and this did go from "post your worries" to "Toxicity vs criticism", "Domestic violence and PDX", "Why we love and yet we hate the game" and little answers with cat memes. I must say is good to read the whole forum in just one thread, it saves time :)
 
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It is unfortunate that his introduction coupled with his personal preference of more limited communication has brought us to this.
He only seems vocal when it's time to plug something.
 
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sillyrobot

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He only seems vocal when it's time to plug something.

He does tend to communicate primarily for marketing purposes. Based on my memory of his initial communications a game lead (which was almost 2 years ago and can easily be faulty, but there is no way I'm going to try to trawl back through 24 months of old threads to validate), he didn't see much value in communicating with the player base or how intricacies of actual dev would be interesting to people. Heck, he barely remembers to post that he's not going to post for awhile (for example, the last summer break).

I won't fault him for a different communication style than Wiz's. If he was handed a calm and functioning game that was deep in maintenance mode without massive problems, his communication would be a good fit. I will offer a critique that his style is causing him and the team unnecessary aggravation by making the frustrated player base more unruly.
 
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I think this is a tricky issue. I do believe that the communication by Paradox devs on this sub-forum is not as good as that on the forums of other games (such as EU IV or CK2). At the same time, Stellaris fans seem more unhappy with their game than fans of other Paradox games - I am not sure there is much "toxicity" per se, but I can see why devs would be unwilling to interact. In general, the relationship between developers and fans has been somewhat complicated basically from the start - for instance, I do not think that other forums ever had entire topics of discussion fully "quarantined" in their own pinned thread, such as for performance now or for sectors in the "good old days".

I think that one possible cause for this is that, for whatever reason, there seems to be a large discrepancy between how the game is viewed by who is active on this forum and by customers at large. While the majority (or at least a large number) of forum users seem to agree that the game is marred by serious problems, which have been left unaddressed for too long, Stellaris seems to be selling very well: it was in the "silver" tier of steam top sellers for 2019, which is very good for a 2016 game (also, it was one tier higher than CK2, HOI4 and EUIV!), and it seems that Federations sold extremely well too (see here, for instance). Further, there does not seem to be any serious decrease in player numbers (they are quite stable across the last 4 years - see here). And whenever Stellaris is mentioned on the main gaming websites the tone is generally extremely positive - I have never read an article on Rockpapershotgun, Polygon or other outlets in which performance and bugs were even mentioned as possible issues.

Thus, I think a possible reason for the "uneasy" atmosphere on the forum is that, while most users think that the game urgently needs extra work on bug-fixing, performance improvement and balancing, the devs look at sales numbers and general reception and conclude that most of their customers are actually quite satisfied. Maybe the devs do not say much because they don't have anything to say which would make the forum users happy - they are not working on some massive rebalancing and patching of the game, they think that the current issues and bugs are not THAT big of a deal, and think that the opinions on the forum are not representative of what most most players believe. This makes the forum users more annoyed, which in turn reduces the willingness of devs to interact with them.

To clarify, I think the game has serious issues - I play on 2.1, have not bought Megacorp nor any later DLCs, and think that the massive overhaul of 2.2 was a sub-optimal use of resources, which might have been better employed to build on the 2.1 framework. That being said, the game seems to be doing great, so I guess I am in the minority. It's possible most players do not really care about having a competitive AI, play only up to the mid-game (so they never encounter issues with broken endgame crises and performance), and do not worry about resettling pops (the AI is not gonna punish you for playing sub-optimally after all).
 
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I think this is a tricky issue. I do believe that the communication by Paradox devs on this sub-forum is not as good as that on the forums of other games (such as EU IV or CK2). At the same time, Stellaris fans seem more unhappy with their game than fans of other Paradox games - I am not sure there is much "toxicity" per se, but I can see why devs would be unwilling to interact. In general, the relationship between developers and fans has been somewhat complicated basically from the start - for instance, I do not think that other forums ever had entire topics of discussion fully "quarantined" in their own pinned thread, such as for performance now or for sectors in the "good old days".

I think that one possible cause for this is that, for whatever reason, there seems to be a large discrepancy between how the game is viewed by who is active on this forum and by customers at large. While the majority (or at least a large number) of forum users seem to agree that the game is marred by serious problems, which have been left unaddressed for too long, Stellaris seems to be selling very well: it was in the "silver" tier of steam top sellers for 2019, which is very good for a 2016 game (also, it was one tier higher than CK2, HOI4 and EUIV!), and it seems that Federations sold extremely well too (see here, for instance). Further, there does not seem to be any serious decrease in player numbers (they are quite stable across the last 4 years - see here). And whenever Stellaris is mentioned on the main gaming websites the tone is generally extremely positive - I have never read an article on Rockpapershotgun, Polygon or other outlets in which performance and bugs were even mentioned as possible issues.

Thus, I think a possible reason for the "uneasy" atmosphere on the forum is that, while most users think that the game urgently needs extra work on bug-fixing, performance improvement and balancing, the devs look at sales numbers and general reception and conclude that most of their customers are actually quite satisfied. Maybe the devs do not say much because they don't have anything to say which would make the forum users happy - they are not working on some massive rebalancing and patching of the game, they think that the current issues and bugs are not THAT big of a deal, and think that the opinions on the forum are not representative of what most most players believe. This makes the forum users more annoyed, which in turn reduces the willingness of devs to interact with them.

To clarify, I think the game has serious issues - I play on 2.1, have not bought Megacorp nor any later DLCs, and think that the massive overhaul of 2.2 was a sub-optimal use of resources, which might have been better employed to build on the 2.1 framework. That being said, the game seems to be doing great, so I guess I am in the minority. It's possible most players do not really care about having a competitive AI, play only up to the mid-game (so they never encounter issues with broken endgame crises and performance), and do not worry about resettling pops (the AI is not gonna punish you for playing sub-optimally after all).
This sounds like what reality is. Thank you for a summary.
 
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@Koizumi while the total number of players can be described as stable most of the other paradox games show a growing trend over the years. With Stellaris it seems to drop down to roughly the same number after every expansion. I don't think you can draw the conclusions you draw from this data that easily. As for reviews there were a couple of Japanese reviews of the console edition that mentioned: lots of bugs, the game slowing down over time and lack of things to do necessitating imagination to make it fun. I really stopped paying any attention to reviews a loooong time ago. Watching some gameplay or playing the game during a free weekend gives a far better idea of the quality of a game.
 
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If you want to know my opinion, I think everyone in this forum is overreacting massively, asking impossible things and being way to clingy overall to the game.

Devs already have said they are working on fixes. They improved lag in federations, and reduced micro in the lastest minor patches. They can't solve everything at once.
If they end up not fixing anything, it's up to them. And if thats the case, you all should stop being so toxic and move on.

There are way better things to do than getting so obsessed with a videogame. Like playing something else.
At this point I've spent over £100 on Stellaris and its DLC's, I'm not going to write off that kind of money because of vague promises and if that makes me toxic I honestly don't give a damn, I want to be able to use the damn software I paid for.
 
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@Koizumi while the total number of players can be described as stable most of the other paradox games show a growing trend over the years. With Stellaris it seems to drop down to roughly the same number after every expansion.

To be honest, I actually agree with this - I think the comparison between HOI IV and Stellaris is particularly interesting: they used to have more or less the same number of players back in 2016/17, but Stellaris stagnated while HOI had a remarkably steady growth. And it is also true that the most recent DLCs were not universally acclaimed (for instance, looking at steam reviews). So, I think you could make the argument that Stellaris could have had better sales with a more focused development. However, I still think that my broad point is valid: if the developers look at sale data and player numbers, they are unlikely to conclude that they they NEED to fix some issues, or they are gonna lose their player base - general reception and sales are still good, based on what we can see.
 
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To be honest, I actually agree with this - I think the comparison between HOI IV and Stellaris is particularly interesting: they used to have more or less the same number of players back in 2016/17, but Stellaris stagnated while HOI had a remarkably steady growth. And it is also true that the most recent DLCs were not universally acclaimed (for instance, looking at steam reviews). So, I think you could make the argument that Stellaris could have had better sales with a more focused development. However, I still think that my broad point is valid: if the developers look at sale data and player numbers, they are unlikely to conclude that they they NEED to fix some issues, or they are gonna lose their player base - general reception and sales are still good, based on what we can see.
I think the cause of this is that the first 50 years of a campaign are quite good. Stellaris excels at empire customization and the exploration with all the anomalies and dig sites in the early campaign. It's only when you've re-started a few times and get into the mid/late game that the flaws become glaringly obvious. Because of this I think the longest players are on average the most dissatisfied while newer or more casual players are happier. It's OK for sales, but over the long run I think the lack of polish is hampering the game and Paradox's reputation. I for one am much warier of buying Paradox games such as Imperator or CK3 because of my experience with Stellaris.
 
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Hi!

I read the forums every day. :)

I wouldn't assume that because we're not saying anything, that we have nothing to say. The forums are a valuable
place to collect feedback from our Community, and I know for a fact the Community team, the Devs, and QA read
the forums regularly, even if they don't respond to every thread.

I will leave you with this:

View attachment 634482

Let me leave you with my anecdote. I bought Stellaris last week with almost all DLCs. It was on sale so I thought dropping $80 dollars to get almost the full package was a steal.

I start playing and I do enjoy the gameplay. Since it is a complex game, I come to the forums to look for some gameplay strategies.

I then find that the mid-late game, which I have not yet reached, is utterly broken in this 4-year-old game that I just payed $80 dollars for. You have not yet lost me as a customer, but I will never buy a Paradox title again without a lot of research. If I was in your marketing team, this would worry me a lot.

Also, I am a seasoned developer. The meme above is funny and one I have seen before but it cannot be used to defend the practices at a Software Company. Paradox is a Software Company.

There are robust enterprise-level tools that prevent these issues, but it takes good practices. Extensive Unit, E2E and Regression testing will catch 99% of the issues portrait in the meme.

I know, developers hate writing automated tests or, god-forbid, doing manual testing.

I hate cleaning my house. I hate living in filth more. So I clean my house.

I hate writing tests. I hate fixing bugs more. So I write a lot of tests.

When I see professional developers deliver buggy code, all I can think of is them living in filth.
 
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You are right, however you should also know that if good practices were already neglected before it's really hard to do them properly without some backtracking and fixing stuff that was messed up before. And it gets exponentially harder the more interconnected issues are in the backlog. From my experience, the worst of worst is lack of documentation and relying mostly on "tribal elders" (or knowledge silos, if you prefer the more craftsmanship-related term) and when they are moved somewhere else (or switch jobs) the less experienced guys are often left with archaeology at the best and breaking enigmas at the worst.
 
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Malecord

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There are robust enterprise-level tools that prevent these issues, but it takes good practices. Extensive Unit, E2E and Regression testing will catch 99% of the issues portrait in the meme.

Well, that's The Issue of the whole company really. They manual test things. And all their games are 10 years long developments with 4-5 paid DLC/patches every year that extend, reshuffle and add brand new mechanics all the time. You can easily imagine the blood bath on the forums at every release.

Some time ago there were the usual thread started by the guy in charge asking for forgiveness for bugs that are obvious after 5 minutes of game because they tested a lot but couldn't test the actual version after the merge of the last minute fixes branch. And that even with an army of tester there would be to many combinations of nation configuration that they couldn't test all. All kind of problems that wouldn't exist if they followed modern methodologies.

But nowadays broken releases are kind of the norm so an(other) apology thread is not even expected anymore. Now the usual day 1 threads are the rants-threads of frustrated gamers. Where you always find some clumsy veteran that tries to extinguish the flames by throwing some gasoline on it because why not ("Are you new to the game? Just way one-two week for the hotfix patches"). And kaboom!

Yep. Somehow these rickety games still keep us entangled in what kind only describe as a sort of digital equivalent of a toxic love relationship.

The thing is (and as a dev you should know) that this is actually no fault of QA nor developers. There is no amount of human work or human attention that one can put on the job to prevent bugs. Like you I'm no game developer but I'm a developer too. And those guys (the coding people) are in my heart. Really I think they are heroes to work on projects like Stellaris in these conditions. It's the company that should embrace 2020 in its processes and make better use of their employee time by letting machines do the automatable jobs and let them work without going home with the terror of introducing hidden regressions. But the company is busy in an expansive growth phase and in my experience when that happens it slows this kind of reorganization. There are also scary rumors of silent QA purges taking places in Stockholm and that doesn't bode well when you eliminate the soldiers instead of giving them good weapons and training (I've seen it before). Especially since auto testing is so much (quality) work. It needs constant care.

So I wouldn't expect soon groundbreaking news on the bugs front. Though if they ever come, they would really be welcome news (being a pessimist myself I love to be wrong!).
 
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You may be surprised (sarcasm), but the problem is not the Devs are unaware of bugs (check files in Stellaris/Logs), but their deceptive behavior, when they proclaim to fix things, but in reality they don't touch them. This kind of attitude makes people rightfully angry.

Ok. There are always those kind of bugs. But usually if the test suddenly start to fail after a rebase it's because someone before me made something that conflicted with my work after I branched. And instead if the issue is found on a nightly test well it's about something changed the day before. More to look at, but still reasonable. And ofc sometimes it's like you say, the issue is there, no test caught it and you have no idea where to find it. But that's not the kind of manifest, evident, obvious issue(s) that has/have the power to turn a forum in a lava world on release day. Every release day.
 
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Writing testable code takes effort.

Writing effective unit/e2e/regression tests takes effort.

Effort means time.

Dedicating more time to something often leads to higher qualities.

However, most software project management tools that track the time devs spend on features report time spent as a bad thing. Time equals money after all.

It takes a good software project manager to help business see the value in this extra time. It takes good business managers to empower their project managers.

As you can see, there are lots of points of failure. And, nearly 10 years in software consultancy have taught me that even highly profitable businesses are mostly run by mediocre people.
 
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Ok. There are always those kind of bugs. But usually if the test suddenly start to fail after a rebase it's because someone before me made something that conflicted with my work after I branched. And instead if the issue is found on a nightly test well it's about something changed the day before. More to look at, but still reasonable. And ofc sometimes it's like you say, the issue is there, no test caught it and you have no idea where to find it. But that's not the kind of manifest, evident, obvious issue(s) that has/have the power to turn a forum in a lava world on release day. Every release day.
Please comprehend me literally : "Devs are aware". We speak not about bugs in general, but quite concrete game breaking things, that persist for years.

All this "Please report bugs, we will look at them" or "Let's create a topic where we could summarize all the issues, for Community Ambassadors to report them" BS have been circle j*rking for years.

It really seems it doesn't affect sales for some reason, so Devs just trying to be "polite" (or how they say "non-toxic") with the most disobedient part of the community.
 
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It really seems it doesn't affect sales for some reason, so Devs just trying to be "polite" (or how they say "non-toxic") with the most disobedient part of the community.
There was this DD on CK3 about AI and they were explaining how they needed to make sure the game does not become too hard that it would drive away people. And they needed it to be challenging enough. DD here and quote below
Our main goal with the AI has been that it should make the game more fun for the player. This has several aspects to it:
  • It should provide some level of challenge, because steamrolling from the get go isn’t fun
  • It should avoid doing things that are frustrating, even if it would make it “smarter”
  • It should feel as if it’s a plausible actor within a Medieval world
These goals all have both overlap, and parts where they’re in opposition to one another. For instance, avoiding frustration does result in a slightly less challenging AI, but that’s often a sacrifice that makes sense.
Why I am saying that to your comment is because a lot of players do not have the amount of time that some people have on the PDX game so they are learning the ropes and "casualy" enjoying the game. So that might be why there is a disconnection within the community where you have a core group of people that are expecting more out of the AI and the rest.
 
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I think the cause of this is that the first 50 years of a campaign are quite good. Stellaris excels at empire customization
Stellaris excels at the appearence of customization. You have all these sliders to move and civics to pick and traits to count out at the start that you think wow, with all these options there must be so much variety and depth in the game!
It's only after you try more than three of them that you realise they don't actually do anything strategically substantive.
...which was the gist of the rest of your post, so TL;DR I agree.

If you were designing a grand strategy game around the question of "How can we get the highest number of upvotes from casuals and reviewers who won't play more than 10 hours", I kinda feel like Stellaris is what would fall out.

It's ironic when you remember that Stellaris was the first time Paradox included a Crisis mechanic specifically designed to jolly up the lategame, but there you go.
 
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Stellaris excels at the appearence of customization. You have all these sliders to move and civics to pick and traits to count out at the start that you think wow, with all these options there must be so much variety and depth in the game!
It's only after you try more than three of them that you realise they don't actually do anything strategically substantive.
...which was the gist of the rest of your post, so TL;DR I agree.

If you were designing a grand strategy game around the question of "How can we get the highest number of upvotes from casuals and reviewers who won't play more than 10 hours", I kinda feel like Stellaris is what would fall out.

It's ironic when you remember that Stellaris was the first time Paradox included a Crisis mechanic specifically designed to jolly up the lategame, but there you go.
Yeah, the traits are pretty underwhelming these days, but origins, government types, and species by species laws give you a huge range to roleplay anything from a bunch of lovey-dovey space commies to the Imperium from WH40k. But yeah, after the initial few years every strategic consideration just boils down to "how many pops do I have?" The universal strategy to win is to just snowball, and if you're not winning enough simply snowball harder through conquest or habitats. Definitely something that needs changing as part of the gameplay balance, as I brought up in a thread half a year ago.
 
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