An ambush of Mordhau enemies

Success is a funny thing. We all struggle to find it, but when it hits us, it’s never quite how we expect, and in the case of Mordhau developer Triternion – goodness are there a few bumps on the road to greatness.

Despite having what may be one of the fastest selling indie PC multiplayer games of the year, Triternion has in the past few days become overwhelmed with a problem that the small, 11-member strong studio is clearly not equipped to handle.

That being the internet’s favorite problem of the moment, toxicity. Speaking of which, if you don’t want to expose yourself to such things, hit CRTL-F and look for “SAFE” to keep reading without seeing some of the internet’s nature to be unpleasant.

Okay… ready? Let’s get into it.

Knights charging in Mordhau
Source: Triternion

Troll in the Dungeon!

So, Mordhau‘s community doesn’t have just one type of toxicity, but multiple choice! You’ve got racism – one of the top Mordhau Reddit posts is titled ‘Post your Kniggas,’. Then there are people telling others to kill themselves. Oh, and homophobia – ‘faggot’ is not an unusual term to experience; it’s guaranteed they’re not talking about stockpiling wood for throwing spears either. This is on top of the community itself being in an uproar. There are both mocking players who want to see affirmative actions like bans against toxic players, and others condemning the hostile nature of the main community while searching for a safe haven among smaller sub-communities.

This is a sample of what can be found in Mordhau’s multiplayer chat.

Not aiding matters is a lack of permanent bans for toxic players; you can vote them off a server, but that takes a concerted, united effort from a community seemingly at war with itself. Muting a player’s microphone spares your ears, but enables the offenders to continue howling and typing freely in text chat.

The best case situation is to find a custom server with mods that punish players in a style, not unlike Rainbow Six: Siege. This warrants noting, as Siege faced similar toxicity, only to find that outright bans are the most effective deterrent finally. Mordhau‘s multiplayer peers have also created dedicated reporting systems. This is something Mordhau, as of this writing, completely lacks despite concerns raised by its player base. Even Twitch knows that sometimes, you gotta ban a bad apple, at least temporarily.

Several knights clashing in Mordhau
Source: Triternion

Beset By Toxicity On All Sides

Further hindering matters is the minimal staff available to be dedicated to community management. To the point that when Triternion’s community manager Jax attempted to address the situation, the thread was closed. After 13 pages, Jax stated in thinly veiled frustration, “This thread isn’t going anywhere. We’re trying to improve our moderation, but we’re a small team and there are a lot of you. I do apologize on behalf of the team for some of these… “people” that are spouting off terrible things in game, and all I can say at this point in time is that we’re working on improving the situation.

We’re trying to improve our moderation, but we’re a small team and there are a lot of you.” – Jax, Triternion Community Manager

PCGamer reports that around 300 users have been banned from the forums, and another approximately 300 people from the game’s official Discord. This has done little to stem the tide. Even the developers themselves have waved off several seemingly flagrant posts, including the above mentioned “Post your Kniggas” thread in a quote in the same report, included below. Keep in mind, this thread has existed since 2017, with no name change.

‘It is one of our longest and oldest [threads], as well as among the most active threads on our forum, full of creative loadouts from our community,’ says Andrew Geach, speaking on behalf of the team. ‘As for the title itself, we as a team don’t find it racist or offensive, and considering the thread’s content, we find it even less so. We do understand however that some people may interpret it as being racist or inappropriate if taken out of context.’ “– PC Gamer

A catapult in Mordhau
Source: Triternion

SAFE.

Mordhau Could This Possibly Get Worse?

I also want to emphasize this is an abridged taste of the situation in Mordhau. There are unpleasantries I’m intentionally leaving out because the sheer act of reading it will make some reader’s either furious or disgusted. Certain members of Mordhau‘s community truly know how to… ‘impress.’

What may be one of the most damning turns in this story has been the nature of upcoming planned updates. Mordhau is expecting to soon allow players to play as female knights and change their ethnicity. In a tailspin that has caused more article updates than an E3 press reveal, members of Triternion first indicated that to appease their more intolerant players, you could toggle whether to recognize player customization or not. This isn’t unheard of either. EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II has a variety of mods to both add or decrease the diversity and variety of the player character customization system. Such mods only apply to the user with them installed. It’s not ideal, but given the team’s stance on the matter, it’s not a shocking choice on their part.

Several knights in a field in Mordhau
Source: Triternion

Miscommunication Across the Mordhau Nation

Except now, after seemingly choosing to satisfy its most hostile community members, this implementation raised additional questions and concerns. Don’t worry though, because now Triternion wants you to know that this toggle option was merely discussed, but never actually planned and that the members who spoke to the press were misinformed due to overhearing the idea discussed. In fact, these two developers have nothing to do with character customization and were just inexperienced with PR. Which raises the question as to why they were chosen to handle the interview, but that’s a question likely never to be answered.

Customization will be represented, whether certain players like it or not. This idea was an “old controversial ‘gender toggle idea,” writes Jax on the official forums, “with the intention being to give the player options to play the game with only female characters, only male characters, or both. This concept was brought forth by one of our developers and posted prior to the game’s release as a response to a large number of heated debates regarding the topic of realism. The idea to give players this ability was simply a theoretical solution to a difficult problem and was never intended to be the official stance of Triternion on this topic. This is a lesson for us that we must be excessively prudent with the wording we use in the future as it can be easy to misconstrue an individual’s opinions and ideas as officially sanctioned.

This is a lesson for us that we must be excessively prudent with the wording we use in the future as it can be easy to misconstrue an individual’s opinions and ideas as officially sanctioned.” – Jax, Triternion Community Manager

On that point, we’re agreed, Jax. However, in regards to taming the hostile toxicity plaguing Mordhau, Jax only had this to add: “In regards to community toxicity, we do not have prior experience managing communities of this size, nor the manpower or resources that established studious can leverage. Our team consists of 11 first-time developers working remotely and volunteer moderators who try their best to curb this toxicity and behavior across all platforms, including in-game. At the moment we are stretched thin with major important content additions and unfortunately we do not have the staff nor systems in-place to moderate everything to our intended level of standards. We plan on improving in this regard. We hope our players understand our situation and will continue to place their faith in us, as improving these things will take time.

Some of this is entirely understandable. Triternion is a small team of first-time developers who just created a game for fans of similar medieval fantasy games. The sheer amount of players, praise, and visibility are more than most independent developers receive in a lifetime. However, with those big numbers come greater responsibility. We can only hope that they are taking this unfortunate turn to heart, to improve the situation for their players. Not only is it proper to tend to one’s community, but as a multiplayer-only experience, toxic players can and have driven fans of the game away, objectively decreasing the variety and value of the experience. With no visible plan, though, there is a concern for Mordhau‘s future longevity.

What are your personal experiences with toxicity in your own gaming communities? We appreciate and respect your honesty and would genuinely appreciate hearing to know your stories below.

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