Trion’s standing in the Dimensions community has taken a dive of late due to two actions that have roused the community’s ire. Their first action was “The Joy of Dimensions” competition followed closely by the great fishing debacle of 2013.
Competitions can be good ideas for a company. They offer publicity, community engagement and tax advantages for a company. Nor are the benefits a one-way affair. For the community, competitions encourage a sense of belonging, a way to show talent to the world and a chance to win prizes.
There are two components to The Joy of Dimensions contest; community voted prizes and a judged prize. Many of the forum complaints have focused around the perceived unfairness of community voting. I don’t think this viewpoint entirely warranted. While voters are not duty bound to put aside their biases when voting, it’s been my experience that they will vote for contestants they admire based on the value of the contestant’s entire career within the community rather than the merit of an individual work. It still has validity within a community.
Two things are skewing the voting for The Joy of Dimensions. 1. It’s not the dimension community voting. 2. The voting process itself is biasing the results.
The choice of Facebook as a voting medium is deliberate. Trion want the competition to reach as many people as possible, to showcase Dimensions and encourage the populace to buy and play Rift. Thus community voting is being swamped by the power of personal relationships, exasperated by the power of social media, to rally friends and family to the cause. Good for Trion, frustrating for the community who want dimensions with the most merit win. Does this mean Trion don’t value the artistic merits of a dimension? Certainly not. That’s why the grand prize is selected by Trion based on merit. That there is only one merit winner and three popularity winners does reflect Trion’s focus on publicity.
Another factor influencing the competition is Trion’s bribe to encourage people to enter and vote. This, combined with some major flaws in the mechanics of the competition, means that entries are not competing on a level playing field. The larger Rift community has little knowledge of the Dimensions community. They just want to enter, vote, get their prize and get out. This wouldn’t be so bad if they voted randomly but they don’t. These voters go to the voting page, see a listing for dimensions with the most votes, and vote for the easiest, the one on top. A simple fix for this is to have a random display of entries rather than the most votes. Keep knowledge of the voting ladder behind a button. This would spread the vote-and-run across a random selection of entries rather than magnifying the top five’s lead.
There’s also a flaw with the way voting on a daily basis interacts with entry into the competition. Entries made on the first day accumulate many more votes than entries made on the last day. Hardly a level playing field for all entries. It’s the reason most popularity competitions have an entry period then a separate voting period.
Let’s hope Trion fix these biases in their competition. Even a competition motivated by publicity needs to be fair in it’s execution. One thing is clear, this is not a competition aimed at the Dimensions community. Take it all with a grain of salt and enjoy the process, knowing that it’s a publicity endevour.
The great fishing debacle of 2013 is another topic gathering resentment for Trion. In their latest patch, Trion introduced soulbound dimension items from fishing activities. Adding dimension items to fishing activities? Great idea! Soulbound? Sucks. With the current limit of one dimension for each toon, soulbound dimension items become a nuisance very quickly. My bank is full of crafting materials, toys, gear, odd socks and other detritus from years of play, where am I going to fit all these new goodies?
That’s just the practical side of soulbound items. The emotional side is fraught with many tears. I see the new items posted on the forums and in dimensions and I instantly think of a dozen new things to build that would be perfect for the Radish Inn. Then I remember that the inn is 1) a guild dimension and 2) the alt owner doesn’t have fishing. Consequence – major disappointment. It’s like somebody made fishing Christmas and I can’t play with all the new toys. I’m not alone in that particular letdown, I’m sure.
Rift has a problem with bots, fishing bots especially. Hacks that give unfair advantages to players and encourage the activity of gold sellers need to be stopped. Trion have just had a ban of accounts engaged in hacking activities. Now they are introducing measures to remove the motivation to fishbot by removing platinum rewards.
The other side of this thorny problem is that by removing the fishing bots, Trion affect the market for fish. World of Warcraft go through account banning on a regular basis. Every time a wave of account bans go out, the auction house prices for crafting mats skyrocket. It’s a sad truth that hackers keep crafting mat prices cheap. Dimension items for fishing actives should motivate the dimensioneers to fish, incidentally supplying the fish market but sell-able dimension items from fishing negate Trion’s bot demotivating strategies, hence the soulbinding.
If this is Trion’s plan, then it has a flaw. Reputation fish hand-ins reward dimension items. The increased demand for reputation fish means the fishbots sell these items to generate platinum. It’s just shifted the platinum making activities to a new area. Have Trion missed this possibility?
If soulbound items aren’t going to negate the fishbot problem then why have Trion introduced them? I wonder if the next step is to bring out a bevy of guild only items. I like the egalitarian approach Trion has taken so far. Till now, nothing has been beyond my reach, dimension-wise, with a little bit of work on my behalf. Trion, with their soulbound items, have artificially created a class of haves and have-nots divided by guild lines. It sits uneasily with my belief that creativity in dimensions should not be stifled by limitations of cost or availability. No amount of bind-on-accounting will fix this aspect of soulbound dimension items.
Two actions on Trion’s behalf are disappointing. The biases inherent in their competition will hopefully be fixed for the next one but where Trion are taking soulbound dimension items remains to be seen. It seems to me that the joy of dimensions has been diminished of late.