Developer Interview: Community and Social

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Hello everyone and welcome to the fourth installment of our Developer Interview Series. I’m Sitri, a Community Intern here at Warner Bros. Games Boston, and together we’re discovering the roles inside the studio that create Game of Thrones: Conquest!     

For the fourth installment of the series, during the game’s fourth anniversary, I set forth (last one, promise) to do something special – and not just make bad puns. I interviewed two separate teams!

If you’ve ever visited our Discord, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you might already be familiar with these folks. One of them is the very group I’m a part of – our Community Management team with Tabris and Bumblebea! 

As Community Managers, they work very closely with both Spectre and Virtua from the second group I spoke to, our Social Media team. 

But what exactly do they do, and what’s the difference between Community and Social? 

Well, both are extremely player-focused disciplines. It’s all about the flow of information between player to Developer and back out again, though each group approaches it a little differently.

Let’s hear more about it from the teams themselves!

Q: Who are you and what do you do at Warner Bros. Games Boston?

Bumblebea: Hey! I’m the lead Community Manager on Game of Thrones: Conquest along with Tabris and Sitri. I’ve been working on Game of Thrones: Conquest in one form or another since before it launched four years ago. Community is an extremely player-focused discipline, and in its purest form, it facilitates the flow of information from the player to developer and back out again. That can end up meaning a lot of different things (and we aim to fit in as much fun for the player in the middle of that process!), but these days my role leans towards maintaining communication with our internal teams, setting up proactive outreach, and helping Tabris and Sitri pull in as much player feedback into our development cycle as possible.

Tabris: Like Bumblebea mentioned, I work with her and Sitri as one of the Community Managers on Game of Thrones: Conquest! My job mainly revolves around Discord, taking the feedback the community gives me and turning it into something that’s digestible for the development team. 

Virtua: I lead the Social Media team in our Mobile Publishing group and am focused on the overall campaign strategy for Game of Thrones: Conquest, as well as Social Media support. I work with Spectre to create programs, and with Bumblebea and Tabris to tie them into Community, usually on Discord or through Raven messaging. I’m a big advocate for player communities and I act as a conduit, taking in feedback and info from our players and bubbling it through our studio. 

Spectre: I’m the Social Media Manager for Game of Thrones: Conquest. Each month, I plan out the content that is published via the @GOTConquest social media platforms. For longer campaigns, such as Battlegrounds, I am often planning posts and blogs 6-9 months in advance. My job is focused on producing content that players find engaging and informative.

Q: What’s your “day in the life” working on Game of Thrones: Conquest?

Tabris: This question is so hard because it changes so often… but essentially, I write blog posts and messages, send messaging in-game and talk to you all directly on Discord! I’m also always in a conversation talking directly to Devs and making sure they have the information they need. Also, I work on bigger projects, like the Discord Stage Q&A and the Player Council! 

Bumblebea: As Tabris pointed out, the day-to-day of a Community Manager is never the same. You have to be willing to wear a lot of hats and take on different roles to meet the ever-changing demands of both the players and our internal partners. If something goes wrong, we will drop everything to escalate and communicate back to the players. 

That being said, my goal is always to remove as many blockers from my team as possible so they can focus on what they are great at – talking with players and advocating for their needs. That means my average day consists more of meetings with all our internal teams, scheduling, planning and pre-production, so it’s as easy as possible for others to execute.

Virtua: Usually lots of meetings, building campaign decks or reporting. I work with a lot of people external to the Warner Bros. Games Boston team and am tasked with highlighting our successes or gathering support for larger initiatives. With Warner Bros. Games Boston, we’re often looking at projects for the upcoming nine months or so. We may have a brainstorming call on an upcoming campaign, work with our Creative team to develop assets or run stuff through approvals. 

Spectre: On a daily basis, you can find me working alongside our art teams to create visual assets, drafting social copy and brainstorming new ideas. My days can also get a bit more involved where I’ll lend my voice for a video voice-over (Red Temple) or host a live Discord Stage Q&A (Battlegrounds!). Additionally, I engage with the Game of Thrones: Conquest community directly via our social media platforms and Discord to ensure that your feedback is heard!

On the left, the intro section of the Red Temple Video Script. On the right, a screencap of this section as it appears in the final video.

Q: How do you collaborate with different departments and teams in the studio?

Virtua: I’m huge on collaboration and I’m really honored to work with this team. We have such a good group in Social and Community. Our Discord Stage presentation for Battlegrounds is a great example of that. Tabris and Spectre floated the idea in one of our planning sessions and we all rallied in our respective areas to see if it was viable. We built out a plan, got support across our organization and all chipped in to make it a success. 

There are so many examples of things like that in the last year, and so many more to come. Hearing what people think and seeing how they interact with them is just a lot of fun. 

Spectre: My work involves collaborating with many teams across multiple studios. To find out what events are planned for the upcoming month, I’ll speak with our Live Operations (LiveOps) team. To learn about a new feature, I’ll sit in on a demo that our Feature Development and QA teams are hosting. To obtain assets for our social posts, I’ll work with our Creative Services team to bring my visions to life. And of course, I collaborate with the Community team to sync our messaging across Social, Discord and in-game. Everything is a team effort!

Tabris: I think collaboration with different departments is just what we do here on the Community side all the time! We’re always talking with teams from across the studio, and even across Warner Bros. Games as a whole. Giving input, getting feedback and pushing for changes.

Bumblebea: Collaboration is essential. There’s no way a single person could (healthily) take in all the forms of data we receive (over 17k messages on Discord in the last month alone!), be able to share that with the team and still have time to build all the cool programs we run for the community. Teaming up with folks like Virtua, Spectre and many more awesome teams behind the scenes has allowed us to accomplish so much more as the game has developed in recent years.

A visual representation of the Community feedback loop within Game of Thrones: Conquest. The cycle is defined by the constant listening to and reporting of player feedback, testing or appraisal of the product/functionality, prioritization for implementation and release, communication of release to players, monitoring resulting sentiment and accordingly, repeating the process.  

Q: How do the Community and Social Media teams work together to tackle programs and updates?

Bumblebea: Community and Social are two sides of the same coin. In fact, in many companies the roles will be combined. However, it’s really cool to see what we can accomplish when each discipline is given a chance to shine on their own.

With the Social team’s help, Community is freed up to focus more on player feedback and feeding that into our development cycle on the studio side. When I look at new features or announcements, I come at it thinking what information is most vital to communicate to players, which sometimes ends up being a wall of text. Social will come in with awesome ideas for visuals we can add, or campaigns like polls that get players more involved in the process. We also have a unified front, so whether you prefer to get your information from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Discord, we’ve got you covered. (I will say I am partial to Discord though :P)

Spectre: Community and Social work pretty much in tandem with one another. Through brainstorming sessions, if one group has a great idea, the other will always find a way to help support it. You’ll often see that Community’s messaging done through in-game and Discord is mirrored on Social.

The Battlegrounds Discord Stage Q&A is an example of a huge collaboration effort between both teams. Together, Tabris and I produced the show format, scripted the talking points, built out the visual assets and ran through rehearsals with Goose (Product Owner of Battlegrounds). Not only that, we co-hosted the live Q&A and coordinated all of the in-game messaging and social posts that promoted the show. This would not have been possible without this collaboration!

On the left, a screencap of a Social/Community brainstorming session for showcasing Battlegrounds creatures. On the right, the final social post assets.

Q: What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time working on Game of Thrones: Conquest?

Virtua: The Official Discord server, without a doubt. Tabris and Bumblebea have done a phenomenal job in organizing everything. The space brings in a lot of great dialogue; we can communicate all these news beats through it, and it’s opened up a lot of feedback on everything. 

Spectre: Information sharing and collaboration between the game team and Social/Community has greatly improved since I first started in this role. Because of this, I’m able to provide players with comprehensive previews each month, hero teases and much more!

Tabris: In the studio, it has definitely been the way we approach giving feedback to developers. When I first began working here, I had to scour personal threads and look for player feedback regarding recent events. Now that we have a better line of communication via Discord, as mentioned previously, you all are never afraid to speak up if you like or dislike something.

Bumblebea: I’ve seen so many changes in the life of this game it’s hard to choose. Older players sometimes bring up an ancient time when we had Keystone Caravans around the map, and I always have to remind folks that those were so early it was before we even had events in the game. There was no other way for players to really earn those resources before then, so what a huge change that was!

But more recently, getting our blog up and running coincided with a lot of wonderful changes. Virtua mentioned Discord already, and the blog was a great supplement to that as a permanent home for all our announcements and content.

Q: What is the most challenging thing you’ve had to explain or communicate?

Tabris: It depends. On the Discord side, the biggest one that comes to mind is the difference between Community and Customer Service. We’re two different departments, so it can be difficult to repeatedly communicate this when I’m asked for compensation I cannot provide. 

On the game side, Seats of Power (SoP) timers. There is no set “time” SoP’s open or close since it changes based on what Kingdom you happen to be in. Explaining that can be confusing to certain players, especially after a merge occurs and the times change up. 

Bumblebea: There are so many things to pick from after so many years of talking about this game! Historically, crafting odds have always been frustrating/disappointing to explain (Even if there’s only a 1% chance of getting a common result, it is still possible to get a common!) Some of our event schedules are also tricky to communicate and differentiated.

I think Battlegrounds cooldowns are going to take the cake though! We built out spreadsheets to try and visualize them and I know we’ll probably still get questions.

Virtua: Since everyone uses social media, it’s not uncommon to have opinions from across the entire organization on how or why we are doing any given thing. For challenges, it’s in explaining the complexities of social media and why we’ve arrived at our current strategy. An added layer is doing it for international audiences when there are additional cultural differences. 

Q: What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Virtua: I like working in and around games. I’ve been doing this type of work for years and it’s one of the few industries where I feel at home. Games have all these diverse viewpoints and backgrounds. There’s a range of hobbies and side projects. You can work with expert creators who build these amazing worlds and learn from some of the best in the business who publish them. 

Spectre: I love working in an environment with like-minded people who are passionate about games. I have so much fun creating new content and programs with everyone from Social and Community.

Tabris: Talking to people! I love, love, LOVE talking to people online. My favorite parts of my days are when we are releasing something new and players flock to Discord to talk about it. Then we get to funnel that conversation over to the development team and discuss what happens next! Overall, I really love working alongside my co-workers and love the culture that I’m in contact with here on the development side. 

Bumblebea: I definitely love when I have time to just chat casually with folks on Discord. I think I sometimes get seen as the one who only pops in if there’s an issue or I need to lay down the hammer (one player once called me the disapproving father, haha), but I am friendly, I swear! 

I also love seeing my teammates do great work and getting to call it out to the whole organization. They do phenomenal work (like this interview series, great job Sitri!) and I’m honored to get to brag about them any chance I get.

Q: Is there anything you want players to understand about what you do?

Virtua: Social and Community, we do different work, but we have one big thing in common — we’re always listening and acting as advocates for change in our organization. We’re one of the only teams that hears directly from players, and we can have a direct one-to-one conversation about your play experience. We hear about what’s good and what needs work, and we help create that visibility in our organization. 

Every person on this team does some sort of reporting that speaks to what you, the player, think of the game. We talk about it a lot and it filters into everything we do. I’m just really passionate about that and players should know there’s an outstanding group that’s working on your behalf here at Warner Bros. Games Boston. 

Tabris: While it can’t always be acknowledged, all of your feedback is being heard by us and the game team. It’s always great to see something changed, improved or implemented that was a direct result from player feedback!

Bumblebea: My job is a balancing act of what information to give and when. Something that’s very hard to see without the full picture is why we don’t just share everything the moment we get it. Things change a lot throughout the process of development, and we want to give our Dev team the flexibility to make the best choices for the game without being locked into details we shared too early. It can be really devastating to give misinformation or disappoint someone if plans fall through. That struggle is always going on in my mind, but I hope we strike the best balance we can.

…. And now, some fun facts about the teams!

Q: What’s your favorite troop type?

Virtua: I do not have a favorite. Maybe I’ll get some flak for that, but I tend to organize my marches by mixed type. 

Spectre: Cavalry. I like to pretend that I’m raiding and flanking for my team!

Tabris: Oof, I tend to mix and match. I’ll say all for the meme.

Bumblebea: Trap main, obviously.

Q: If you were a stat, what would you be?

Virtua: I know this question usually refers to Game of Thrones: Conquest stats, but I’m going with a social media metric – engagement. I think this embodies my personality, I love talking with people and getting their perspective on any number of things. I am always up to chat, and I tend to ramble. 

Spectre: I would be Healing Speed because I’m typically prone to injury…

Tabris: I’m thinking +March Size since I love bringing all our players’ feedback into the work our teams do.

Bumblebea: Some players once said I had an “in-meetings multiplier”, which I think is accurate. If I have to stick within existing stats, I’d say Rally slot +1. I’m all for building a team and enabling folks to take down big targets.

Q: Who’s your favorite Game of Thrones character?

Virtua: Hard to single out a single character, but I guess Arya Stark. I like her character arc, how she was extremely driven in her motives and surprised everyone she met. 

Spectre: Maybe an all-too-common answer, but I love Daenerys. Plus, dragons are cool!

Tabris: +1 Arya Stark, I love her!

Bumblebea: Olenna Tyrell. I aspire to be her when I grow up.

Q: What would your house emblem/animal/heraldry be if you were a great House of Westeros? Bonus points if you include your House words!

Virtua: Gotta go with some sort of cat. I know the instinct as a banner would be to have this fierce animal, but I’d rather just have a snuggly cat. Maybe that would be so unexpected that an attacker would stop short, and I could catch them off guard. 

Spectre: It would have to be a pig. It’s often represented in my online presence and personal brand. Also, I’m just a huge fan of bacon and other pork dishes!

Tabris: Some sort of bird, like a dove. I love watching them, and the ability for them to fly away on a whim makes me a bit jealous.

Bumblebea: Westeros already has the perfect house for me: House Beesbury of Honeyholt. House words would be “Beware our sting.”

We hope you enjoyed this look into Community Management and Social Media!

It’s been fun to bring you all along with me as I learn about all the many departments and pieces that go in to making a game run, but it’s especially great getting to share this look into my own discipline and the teammates I work with daily. One of the biggest things I’ve gotten to see first hand is just how integral the community is to everything we do here.

As I continue this series and my time here at Warner Bros. Games Boston, I’m excited to continue learning how best to bridge the gap between those who make games and those who play them and to connect with our community in the best way we can. Stay tuned over the coming months as we interview other disciplines and learn more about the process of developing Game of Thrones: Conquest!

Do you have suggestions for future questions or departments you’d like to see interviewed? We’d love to hear your input, as well as any other feedback or suggestions you have for the series!

Tag @Sitri, or any of our interviewees, on Discord in the #game-discussion channel, or send a PM, and let’s chat!