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Customer Support - The Turbine Experience
Author: Brian Anderson
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Customer Support - The Turbine Experience
May 02, 2007

Online gaming is becoming BIG business; with dollar figures in the billions, it has the attention of every major game developer. While there is little doubt about the quality of the games improving vastly, what about the customer service? After all, you are in most cases spending around $50 for the game, then around $15 a month to play it. That's a lot of money out of your pocket (around $230 for the first year). When you have a problem in game, and you try to contact support, you have a reasonable expectation of actually getting reasonable support.

I have heard of problems with many of the current and past generations of MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) on the market. Some of them are valid, some of them are not. Of course there is the old adage that you can't please everyone all the time, but I wonder if the developers/game operators even really try?

While I can not personally speak to every MMO/Online Game out there, I can speak to Turbine's DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online). I have been playing this game for over a year, and while I do truly enjoy the game play and the interactions with other players, I have not had very good experiences with their in game support. Most of the time I am simply submitting a complaint about in game spammers and the GMs (Game Masters) respond quickly with a "thanks we'll look into it" response; but I have not had similar luck when putting in a help request ticket.

Honestly, it's been quiet the opposite! Of all the tickets I have personally submitted (in the area of 10) only 1 has actually resulted in me being helped in a reasonable and timely manner. This was a case where my character was stuck and unable to move. The GM responded in around 10 to 15 minutes and moved my character to a safe, close area. I think it was my first ticket to be honest, so I was very pleased. However, that was the last ticket I was pleased with. I have submitted other tickets where my character was stuck, and after over 30 minutes of no response and the party waiting on me I was forced to do a /death which means I was forced to commit suicide, release, and take an XP (eXperience Points) debt. I know it wasn't a fun experience and took me some time to recover that debt.

I have also been in parties where someone else submitted a ticket because a "mob" had not been in the area it was supposed to and it was required to either complete the quest, get additional XP, or possibly a chest. Generally, we would either end up either losing out on the XP or the chest because the GM would not respond in time, or we would quit the quest and do it over. Now this is not to insinuate that we were never helped, because we have been. But of those times it was rarely done correctly and the GM actually spawned multiple mobs or incorrect ones. When that happened we would have to fight battles we had already fought, but eventually the GM would get the right mob or when they did the mass spawn it included the correct mob.

Now I will have to admit that I have not personally had to submit many tickets. Many times the groups just decided that it wasn't worth the wait, or the possibly of being told "we can't help you", so we would just restart the quest. However this weekend (April 28, 2007) we were doing one of the newer quests that took us about 2 hours to complete. We were a "short" party that didn't have all the needed classes to make it a short run, but we just wanted to play and knew we could complete the quest in a longer than normal time frame. So we ran through the quest, that unfortunately, included a near party wipe in the end (hey every once in a while the dice hate you). We went to complete the quest and…. Nothing. Apparently we ran into a known bug (that I found out later was a known bug) and would require a GM to help us in order to finish. Two of us submitted tickets since we weren't sure how long it would take and the leader of the party was tired - so we weren't sure how long he'd stay awake. Now this particular quest was long, gave you a lot of XP for completing it, and the end reward could be very good. So we waited on a GM response.

Flash ahead one hour. Two out of the five people in the party had dropped (including the one that fell asleep) and three of us were still waiting. No response from any one.

Flash a head another 30 minutes. One of the other remaining party members can't wait any more, and needs to go to sleep. He puts his character in a corner, puts on auto run, and hopes that he is not dropped by the time the GM helps.

Flash a head another 30 minutes. The guy in the corner auto running… well he got dropped; and the fourth member of the party decided it's late and he's going to try and watch some TV or just go to bed. He also puts his character in the corner and on auto run. I am now past caring about the quest, but want to find out how long it will take to respond.

Flash ahead… another 30 minutes. The fourth player drops and I am standing all alone. I now decided if it's worth it. It's after midnight my time, I'm pretty tired, but decided that I'm going to wait a while longer. Not because I can't afford the XP loss and while I am interested in my end reward, I have already spent more time waiting than it would have taken me to complete another quest, or even this quest again with the right party. But hey… I want to see how long they take.

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