Between Peter Molyneux's vocal commentary on development and a rabid fan base, Lionhead Studios Community Manager Sam Van Tilburgh is expecting to only increase his workload when Fable 2 is launched to community criticism.
A month away from its release, the Fable 2 team has been promoting its title as much as possible, in true Molyneux style. With a Halo-inspired character, pre-release parlor games and a nearly finished product, Van Tilburgh's job of managing the aftermath is about to begin.
"My crunch only gets worse," said Van Tilburgh to MTV's Patrick Klepek. "When the game comes out, people start playing it and then everyone's got an opinion! [Lionhead] said to me when I started, if you survive your first game as a community manager, you're in it for life. Ninety-five percent of community managers don't even survive the first game."
Even if he survived the first Fable launch, the role's position as the public face of the studio puts him in place to take public punishment alongside the developers.
"You take everything personal," he explained. "I spend, in a week, 40 to 50 hours in the office with my friends, my colleagues. They spend 10, 12, 15 hours a day in the office. We shower there, we eat together, we sleep on the sofa...and then to hear people say 'This is s***! I don't like this and I don't like this!' It's hard not to take it personal. It affects you."
All the input from gamers who email Lionhead or post on the company forums is taken seriously. Some suggestions even influenced the final product. One specific example Van Tilburgh recalls is the controversial "bread crumb" directions that lead players toward the next point in the story progression.
"The bread crumb trail is a perfect example. When Peter first introduced it, everybody hated it on the team," stated Van Tilburgh Then, so many people started complaining about it that we came to the idea that we should actually lessen the effect. If you decide to not to stick to the bread crumb trail and go off the bread crumb rail, then it fades and becomes very soft."