Get your head chopped off.
The sudden disappearance of Daeke from the Champions Online forums, followed by the announcement that he’d “moved on to other things” was an interesting set of events. Not because Cryptic saw another Community Manager pass through ChampO – they’ve had Sporkfire, IronAngel, Kestrel, Awen (popped up but mainly Star Trek Online), Katalyst and I’d swear at least two others who’s names escape me alongside Daeke – but because the chain of events certainly made it look like Daeke had been fired for revealing that the Vibora Bay expansion was going to cost money to buy rather than being free content. I’m not saying he was, but that’s what things could easily look like.
The interesting thing for me was seeing the forums move from yelling at Daeke as a representative of Cryptic for, well, pretty much everything, to suddenly seeing him as a defender of truth and player justice. Arkayne (Cryptic’s lead dev) made a fairly innocent comment that Daeke and the rest of the Cryptic team were going to do a post-mortem sometime about the Winter Event but that it had been delayed and was quickly accused of throwing Daeke under a bus. It’s a quirky shift.
Personally I liked Daeke in the limited exposure I had to him and don’t envy his former position of front line customer service for ChampO – it’s been a title with problems and the forums have been a special mixture of bile, bitterness and outright venom at times. Daeke did quite a bit with what he had and if anyone is looking, in fact, he wants another CM job (so must have unlocked that “Glutton for Punishment” perk in ChampO).
That said, announcing that Vibora Bay was for-pay content before announcing what players were actually paying for was a bad move for anyone to do. It got a lot of negative attention for absolutely no gain – players were outraged, it took Cryptic off-message at a time when Star Trek Online was launching (which had some issues of its own, even if just gaming media generated) and all in all wasn’t good community management. Now, it can be true that Vibora Bay will be for-pay content, but simply going out and saying that wasn’t helpful at all to either players or Cryptic. The truth can be distorted as easily as a lie if you lack the details behind it and pretty much nothing is out there about what Vibora Bay is going to contain.
As such, this was a huge learning experience for both Cryptic and Daeke with negative consequences for both. It’s possible that some other gaming studios might view Daeke as tainted by the controvery, but I hope not – he’s suddenly got some very valuable experience as well as an answer to the “What has been your most difficult experience?” new job interview question.