Engaging gamers and determining KPIs


(Cedric Debono) #1

Hi all!

My name is Cedric and I’m the international community manager for Tanki Online, a MMO game with tanks. I’ve been there for 1 year now, but I feel like I’ve only just started scratching the surface, and that I really need to step up my game as CM, which is why I’ve been looking for a solid community like this one.

I’m looking forward to learning and sharing.

I’m also a freelance direct-response copywriter, and I worked as a TV producer for a number of years on Malta’s national TV station, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to contribute to our community within those fields.

If you have any questions, do reach out! I’ll be happy to reply :slight_smile:

First time here? Welcome!
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hey Cedric,
Welcome – great to hear from you. We have a few members here from established gaming communities, so you’ll be in good company. Are you facing any particular challenges at the moment?

(Cedric Debono) #3

That’s great news :slight_smile:

Well, my biggest challenge right now is defining the real KPIs that determine whether I’m doing a good job or not as a CM. I mean, judging by how the community responds and interacts with me, it looks like the it’s doing great, and I do track google analytics, FB insights and forum numbers, but the tough part is learning how to bring everything together into one coherent picture.

The big question is, “If my boss were to call me tomorrow and fire me with the accusation of incompetence, what is the one thing that would prove his judgement wrong?” Not that that’s gonna happen, mind you. I know for a fact that my boss is VERY happy with the work I’m doing, because he tells me on a daily basis. But still, the question begs for an answer. And I think it’s a question ALL OF US should be able to answer.

(Richard Millington) #4

If that happens you’re probably doomed regardless of what you say :slight_smile:

This might help - https://www.feverbee.com/roi/part-three-communicating-value/.

What I’d suggest is asking your boss first what he wants to see from the community, checking that is reasonable, and then providing those metrics in the future.

Engagement metrics can sound impressive, but people seem to be increasingly skeptical of the value of engagement metrics these days (as they should be). So I’d begin by asking:

What is the goal of the community?
What behavior do you need members to perform to achieve that goal?

And that should give you a good sense of what to measure. If you can answer those two, I can probably give some advice here.

(Cedric Debono) #5

Thanks @richard_millington, I’ll definitely check out the article. “Communicating value” is definitely the key phrase here, and as a copywriter, I understand the importance of that very well.

To continue our discussion, I did ask my boss what he wants to see. When I first started out, he said he wanted to see me communicate with the community, and that’s what I do. I communicate with the community, a lot. And that makes him very happy. He does ask me for the metrics, but he judges “with his eyes”.

In fact, last week I asked him the question bluntly. I said, “How can I tell whether I’m doing a great job or not? Which metrics should I track?” And he said, “Use your eyes. There are no reliable metrics for community management.”

As for your questions:

  • What is the goal of the community?
    The community is pretty big, so growth isn’t really a goal. I’d say we’re at a maturity stage where growth is unlikely. I think the real goal here would be “fostering a positive relationship between the community and the developers”. The gamedev world is populated by some pretty vocal and toxic people. Players will rip you to pieces over an unpopular update.

  • What behavior do you need members to perform to achieve that goal?
    I believe that the key behavior is “communicate more”. I want to get more people involved in the conversation and expressing their views. A silent crowd can’t be understood. That’s why I’m constantly asking questions and eliciting responses. And I intend to do even more of that.

Actually, it’s great that I’m writing this here, because writing gives clarity. In fact, one of the things I’ve found REALLY helpful as a CM, is keeping a journal. It’s especially useful for gauging what I’ve done during the week.

You know, our work is pretty intangible sometimes. On some days, you feel like you’ve worked very little but achieved a lot, and on other days you feel like your ass was on fire all day but you achieved nothing worthwhile. A journal gives me a very candid and objective picture of what I’ve done, and it helps me redesign subsequent days so that I’m more productive and moving closer to my goal.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

I’m interested in this. What kind of things do you put in it? Is it like a diary of to-do lists, or do you write in more detail?

(Cedric Debono) #7


Here’s how I organize it.

First of all, I keep it in a google doc, using H1 as the week number and dates, and H2 as the specific days of the week. This helps me jump to specific weeks/days using “Tools > Document Outline”.

Every day, I put the main tasks I’ve done. More importantly, since I write all of my content in google docs before posting it to whatever platform, I also link to the related docs in my journal.

For example:

Week 21 - May 22 - May 28


* Posted [server restart message] * Update [EULA] and upload [here] * [THE GAME announcements] - [Folder] * [EN V-LOG] * Wrote [announcement for Increased Mission Rewards Summer 2017] * Posted [Domination Series II announcements]

(Don’t be fooled by the small number of tasks. The majority of those tasks involves a number of other sub tasks. In fact, that journal entry represents my 12 hrs of work yesterday.

So, each of those phrases in square brackets represent hyperlinks that would lead to the google doc containing the actual announcement, or some other important location, such as the place I’m supposed to post the announcement. This serves a very important function. It keeps my most relevant files at my fingertips, without me having to go fish for them in the browser bookmarks. We’re all CMs here, so we all know how many tabs and websites we’re juggling at any one time.

This method makes it super simple. I just close everything and keep my journal handy. Once I’m ready to go back to a task, I’ll Ctrl+F search for the name of the task, and I’m right on it.

This is especially handy when I need to refer back to a task I would’ve done months earlier. For example, if I need to write announcements for a contest that is similar to one we held two months earlier, I can dig that up in my journal and find the original announcement, which I can then cherry pick from.

On top of all that, as I said earlier, it allows me to visualize what I’ve actually done, and assess whether my day was as productive as it “felt”, which means I can constantly course correct to remain productive.

And there’s one more important thing. I gave my boss access to that journal. To the best of my knowledge, he’s never looked at it. But I made it clear to him that if he ever wants accountability, it’s right there.

A small note. I always put the most recent entries at the beginning of the document, because it’s easier to manage that way. Additionally, I keep a section with To Do’s, using the same practice of hyperlinking to the required materials.

(Richard Millington) #8

Just want to flag be careful what you write here.

This isn’t a private forum and there’s nothing to stop your boss looking your name up :slight_smile:

(Cedric Debono) #9

@richard_millington, there’s nothing to worry about. The journal entries all refer to publicly available information. As for my productivity habits, they do not fall under an NDA.

(Richard Millington) #10

Ok, I meant more in a ‘hurt the relationship’ sense than a legal one :slight_smile:

If you achieve this goal, how will it benefit your business? just trying to uncover the final end result.

Is there anything specific you want them to communicate about? What information do you need them to share?

(Cedric Debono) #11

Ah yes, I understand. Still, I don’t think I said anything that might harm the relationship in any way. As I said, he has full access to the Journal, and I do that to foster trust.

Here’s the scenario. The game is 8 years old. In terms of graphics, it definitely cannot compete with modern games. So we compete on other elements — gameplay, and community.

The former isn’t within my competence. But I’m responsible for the latter. By creating a tight-knit community, I increase the life-cycle of players, and thus the longevity and profitability of the game.

There are a number of things that I’m doing. First of all, I’m encouraging community-generated content — eSports tournaments, “forum newspaper” articles about the game, helper-organized events, livestreams, etc. There’s a lot happening thanks to some very dedicated helpers and admins. My role is to keep them enthusiastic and feeling appreciated.

But then there are regular users who aren’t “contributing” as such. By that I mean, they’re not organizing events or writing articles. And I don’t need them to do that. But I still want to engage them. The vast majority of these are silent. You don’t see them on chat or even on the forum. Those who do talk, will mostly do on the forum, and then there’s a relatively small percentage of users who are active on the forum. My goal is to get even more people talking on the forum and building relationships, which is key.

(Cedric Debono) #12

By the way @richard_millington and @HAWK, maybe we should take this conversation to a dedicated topic lol. I feel like I’ve hijacked the thread, and that’s not a nice thing to do, especially when I’m the new guy :sweat_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #13

Done! Feel free to change the title. :slight_smile:[quote=“cedric_debono, post:11, topic:6183”]
But then there are regular users who aren’t “contributing” as such.

Why don’t you contact them and ask why they’re not engaging? Perhaps there is something that you can change.

Or perhaps they’re participating in exactly the way they want to, in which case you can concentrate your energy elsewhere.

(Cedric Debono) #14

Awesome :slight_smile:[quote=“HAWK, post:13, topic:6183”]
Why don’t you contact them and ask why they’re not engaging? Perhaps there is something that you can change.

Or perhaps they’re participating in exactly the way they want to, in which case you can concentrate your energy elsewhere.

To be honest, it’s pretty hard to target such users individually. Lots of users have “alt” accounts that they never use on the forum because they use their “mains”. Although maybe I could send an in-game alert saying “If you’ve never used the forum etc.” with a link to a survey.

It might yield some interesting results.