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The Future of the Milton Mailbag

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From the Dev Diary – May 2020

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Many of you might have followed my (almost) weekly Milton Mailbag post in the official forums. Unfortunately, due to the weekly time commitment required (each Mailbag post typically took me 2-3 hours to put together), I wasn’t able to maintain regular updates as we were finalizing Episode Three, and I just haven’t been able to justify the time since then, for the relatively small number of people (around 1,000-1,500 per entry) who would read the posts. But, I still want to respond to questions and engage with you around The Long Dark — I just need to find a more efficient/effective way to do this. One option we are considering is switching this to a video format — essentially, I would put together a video (it would not be anything fancy, as I’d be recording it in my home office) on a monthly basis (more often if we’re able), where I respond to 3-5 community questions. I might not end up going into as much detail in this format, and I may not be able to respond to 20-30 questions each week, but I think this will be a pace and time commitment I can sustain. If any of you would like to see the Mailbag become a regular video segment on our YouTube channel, please let us know on social or in the forums.

Please discuss the future of the Milton Mailbag in this thread.

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That would be an excellent format.

 

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Yes please! As I said on Twitter, I think this is a fantastic idea.

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I think a video would be a wonderful way to continue the Milton Mailbag!

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moar is good thanks!!

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I haven't been on here much, but the few times I have, I had always wanted to see something like this. I didn't know it was here. I'll keep a look out for it more. With that said, maybe I can make a few comments, because I do understand why doing this and only gaining 1000-1500 views would be frustrating. Please note, my comments all come from my interactions in following Factorio. They have been doing a blog for called Factorio Friday Facts (FFFs) for 345 Fridays, and they get a couple hundred comments and between 6000 to 35000 views (which sometimes strained their servers). I think it is successful for the following reasons:

1) it is right there on the factorio.com page, in fact, the last three are linked there. This MM is a little buried. Not impossible to find, but it would be nice if I could just see it going to thelongdark.com. I only found out about it from the dev diary update on TLD steam library page.

2) It is every Friday, seemingly without fail. There have been so many times I realize it's is Friday, and although a Friday is a great thing to get excited over, the FFFs add to that, and I look forward to what they post. The consistency allows me to know if it will be there. Looking back, the pattern is a little loose with this MM, and so I wouldn't necessarily visit here looking for the MMs, not know if one will be here or not.

3) The content varies (I'll have to back back through the MMs to see what all the content is (In fact, you should just post something every Monday, then you can call it MMMs)). On FFFs, sometimes it is talking about new graphics, or the next release, or weird code and bugs, community highlights, or recipe changes. I don't always like the content in every single one, and I don't understand all the code, but it is neat to get a little inside view of what they are dealing with.

4) They vary authors somewhat, which gives different content and different perspectives and I imagine helps with FFF burnout. And lastly,

5) I think they benefit. They get feedback and really engage highly with the community. I don't know what it is like here, I'll read back and see, but I am so impressed with how many idea and things are from the community and feed into game, and just how much they talk to the factorio fans. Which gives Wube the advantage of sometimes the community providing resources or generating new thoughts or ideas they can use, and also lets them know if a new idea which sounded good in the office, will be garbage with the users. In the end, they always balance the users and their own ideas, and I feel all the changes they made were for the better (see, I'm not afraid of change, as long as it is good!). Although I will admit I am nostalgic for the alien artifacts. RIP purple orbs.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I do hope you check out the FFFs if you have not before. I think they could help with your MMMs 😃 

 

I do hope you run with that, I think MMM is funny idea. Mmmmmm...

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I would definitely watch update videos with answers to fan questions!

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Would love to see this.

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Mojang started doing this and now everybody wants to. I guess it's just cheap exposure and if the series ends up being a modest success like Mojang's ask Mojang it will pay for it's self.

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Posted (edited)

A few thoughts....

- A video option would be awesome. I find them to feel more personal. Love when game devs use them to connect with players, maybe even give different staff members a chance to shine, show us around the offices, etc... a lot of potential there for a great connection with fans & humanizing the dev team & the studio. So a +1 from me - a relatively new player who is definitely drinking the TLD koolaid.

- Be careful... generating video content is rarely *less* time consuming than writing a blog type post. Unless it's a chance for management to sit, talk for 15 mins then leave & all the: choose questions, setup, editing, rendering, uploading, posting & channel-care gets passed to a staff member.... but in sheer man-hours, you won't save time, it will likely take longer.

- If you were routinely answering a couple dozen mail bag Qs & the video will only answer a couple... you might save yourself even more time by just not answering so many Qs in each written update. It all depends on your goal:

* Connect with fans & give a human touch to the studio & staff? Video.

* Save the time of the person who was doing 2-3 hr mailbag posts but ok to roll that work down hill? Video.

* Save total team-hours? Shorter written posts.

* Maximize Qs answered? Full written posts.

* Best Qs answered per time spent ratio? Medium written posts - maybe half the # of Qs aswered as before. Or .... write answers to Qs till the 1 hr mark then stop. Some weeks will be more, some less.

 

TLDR; Video would be awesome, but it won't save you time.

Edited by Sherri
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3-5 questions per month? Lol, rather try online stream and answer questions suggested by chat (10 - 20 minutes). Then make Youtube playlist as archive with your recent videos with answers.

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Personally I prefer the written version of the Milton Mailbag. I miss reading it weekly! But I understand how that could be (and is) a difficult commitment to stick to, especially now. I would be super happy with a Monthly Milton Mailbag (and look at that alliteration!) that stayed true to the original written format. You could still answer fewer questions to keep it from 1) being too long of a read and 2) taking up hours and hours of your time!

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17 hours ago, Moll said:

3-5 questions per month? Lol, rather try online stream and answer questions suggested by chat (10 - 20 minutes). Then make Youtube playlist as archive with your recent videos with answers.

Don't get me wrong but to answer questions like "will [insert obscure canadian item] be in the game?", "when will next episode come?", "why can't I carry 180 lbs of stuff?". Over, over and over. 🙂 😁

 Video of the best 3-5 questions with considered answers are  way better in my perspective. 

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It depends on the length of the video for me. I'll be probably OK with 10-15 minutes videos. If it's longer, I'll evaluate on the 1st video and then will decide whether I want to watch it or not. Plus I agree, that this format might be more time consuming unless it is planned to be done in one take without preparation and further editing.

I will definitely miss the old format, because it was more informative and clarified even small questions.

I did not get though, do community questions will come from the old Milton Mailbag question thread or we will need to repeat them somewhere else? 

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Videos would be nice. Adding some TLD soundtrack in the background would make the videos even better imo.

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Yeah the comeback !! Nice !

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i would be thrilled with any format of update/communication from the dev team.  i think short videos would be great! 

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I tweeted that it would be nice to see the subtitles. But I thought a little more. I came up with a few ideas

  • You should try it at least once. Because creating a video is quite a time-consuming process. You need a good sound, you need a video series, you need to think carefully about the answers. And it may take much longer than writing a letter.
  • I would like to see something more in the video. For example, a story about how ideas were invented. How to create the elements of the landscape or model animals. Let this be a limited series of videos rather than a weekly newsletter.
  • Maybe leave it as it is. This is a good experience and let it remain as it is.

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When space engineers was being worked on earlier in the beta they had a weekly video that they put together. It was done by their community manager though from what I recall so it wasn't the devs making it.

As much as I enjoyed watching them I understand it can take time, time which could be spent actually making the stuff you're talking about.

 

I think the current dev diary is decent. We get to hear from you guys once in a while and you don't have to spend a ton of time on it.

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If ive already bought the game on xbox will i still have to re buy it on the Nintendo switch if that version is released

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In return of my precious and much valued questions, I want a proper response written by you, preferably on whitetail deer leather paper; handed personally to me on behalf of your company; accompanied by (at least) four armored cavaliers. 

Please note that all the cavaliers MUST have beards.

Long story short, Video format sounds awesome. You could also try doing some live AMA too!

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On 5/2/2020 at 3:38 PM, Sherri said:

. Love when game devs use them to connect with players, maybe even give different staff members a chance to shine, show us around the offices, etc... a lot of potential there for a great connection with fans & humanizing the dev team & the studio.

Not only that, but it inspires those interested in getting into the industry and gives insight on what they might expect in a studio. 

For example, I went to college for animation and it has taught me almost nothing on what being employed as one is actually like. I've learned more about it from game devs letting their staff speak to the audience. 

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