Interview with GM-Karvar
Thank you for finding some time to take this interview. We've been looking forward to it for quite a while now and we are very happy to get to finally make it happen.
First thing first, what's up with the mummies? Wherever you go, they always follow! :D
When I was a little boy, I got my first no-fiction book about old Egypt. It was made for children, of course, and had only a short chapter about mummies. But I was fascinated and this fascination never left me. On the contrary, when getting older I encountered more stuff about mummies, fictional and non-fictional, and my fascination grew. So in a fantastic environment, like TibiaMe, these would be my chosen companions. ;D
Before we will start talking about your main work tasks, we would like to get to know more about you for those who might not be aware of whom you are. So would you mind sharing some more info about you?
No, I don't mind. But please understand that there might be some things I won't answer to.
That's totaly fine.
So, what's your real name and can you give us a photo of you?
We use the GM-Nicks to help us keeping our anonymity and I prefer to keep it this way. I am sorry.
How old are you? And what is the best thing about being your age?
I'm 43 years old and the best of being my age is that I made it that far. ;)
But without joking, I think the best about being my age is that I have already seen and experienced quite a bit. This allows me to be a little more relaxed when it comes to living my live. So I don't fret about what goes wrong and enjoy what is good.
I was born in April.
Where do you come from?
I was born in a small town on the edge of the Bavarian forest in Germany. It is about 80 km away from Regensburg (CipSoft home town)
Languages you speak?
I speak Bavarian (local dialect), German, English, and French (a little)
Do you live far from the office?
I live in a small town on the outskirts of Regensburg. It is about 15km by car from the office.
Single or married? Do you have family? Any kids?
After a long time relationship I'm single again at the moment. I have no kids of my own but I'm lucky and have a loving family. Both of my parents are still alive and I try to visit them as often as I can. I also have a brother who is married. Even one of my grandparents is still alive and well. In addition I have many uncles and aunts. So we don't meet as often as we want, because we live in different areas of Bavaria, we try to keep contact and meet regularly.
Things do you like the most?
What I like most is enjoying life. This includes good food and drinks while hanging out with my friends and having a good time.
Things do you hate the most?
I hate ignorance, intolerance and prejudice.
Your wishes and dreams?
Mmmmh, this question is not an easy one to answer. Dreams and wishes can range from small day to day stuff to big world changing philosophical issues.
One of my dreams as a teenager was to create my own RPG computer game. This dream became reality, at least to a certain part, when I started working for CipSoft. But I still have the dream to someday create one based completely on my own ideas.
Rooting in my interest for history, I dream about visiting some historic sites all around the globe. I am working to make this dream real for some time now. But I can do this only step by step. This year I will try to go and see Angkor Wat. The great pyramids and some other Egyptian Wonders are planned for the next year.
On a bigger level I wish for the world and its people to recognize that we are all humans and have to work together for a better future.
Your mobile model?
I own and use a Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Your car model (if have) if don't have, why? Do you have driving license?
Yes, I have a driver license for nearly 25 years now. I recently bought an Opel Astra 1.7 CDTI Sports Tourer because my previous car was about 14 years old and threatened to break down.
How much coffee/tea cups you drink per working day?
I don't drink any coffee or tea. My main drink at work is simple and plain water. I drink about 2 bottles while at work.
Your favourite movie, book, cartoon character, anime show, TV show, sport?
The full answer to this question would be quite extensive as I don't really have one specific favourite movie, book, etc. There is too much good stuff out there. To name it all would probably be too much, so I will try to point out a few of my all-time favourites.
For movies this would be the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars (original trilogy), Indiana Jones 1+3...
I really read and have read a lot. Also there are a big number of fantastic books out there, so it is really hard to pick a favourite one. As I'm a huge Tolkien fan, the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion would count to my absolute favourites of all time. From the recent past I would say that the Warded Man Series of Peter V. Brett and the Kingkiller Chronicles written by Patrick Rothfuss made it in my list of favourites.
The same problem here, there are so many great cartoon characters. At the moment I would say my favourite character is actually a group of characters, the “Penguins of Madagascar”. Even though it is not a classic cartoon, I love the animated series.
I am more into anime movies, like Akira or Ghost in the Shell, not so much into series and shows. For series I would count “Record of Lodoss War” to my absolute favourites.
I do not watch TV shows. I am more the documentary and political magazine guy.
I like soccer, basketball and baseball. But I am not a really big sports fan.
What music are you listening to right now?
Since my youth I’m a fan of Rock and Heavy Metal Music. But I try to keep an open mind and appreciate good music from every genre.
At the moment one of my favourites is a band called Scar Symmetry.
Favourite countries/places? Why?
A tricky question. I wouldn’t say that I have a favourite country. I visited my share of countries and would say that each one, including my own, has its positives and negatives.
But there are countries like Egypt, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brazil or Japan, that I would like to visit very much. And I will do so in the future.
Favourite food and drinks?
Like to some of the other questions, I cannot give a simple answer. There is so much great food out there that it is very hard to name only one favourite. Of course I enjoy traditional Bavarian food (the part of Germany I come from) but I’m also a great fan of the Mediterranean cooking style. And there are many other food styles I really favour, like Arabian, Indian or Thai food.
With drinks I’m a little more conservative. I normally drink plain water and would name this my favourite day to day drink. If it comes to drinking when going out, I prefer beer and as a treat I like a good glass of whiskey from time to time.
The 5 important things you would include in your things-to-do list?
This question really made me think. I actually never had or have such a thing as a things-to-do list. When I wanted to do something I sooner or later did it or will do it.
So if there is a list it is ever changing and nothing is so important to not be replaced in a whim.
What time do you normally wake up?
When I have to work I normally get up between 6 and 7 am. At the weekends or when I’m on holiday it is possible that I sleep till 10 or sometime even 12.
If you were to change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m kind of a lazy guy when it comes to personal activities. This is what I would like to change and I’m working on it.
How and when did you become a CipSoft member? And how was your first day at work?
I started at July 2011 as a Customer Support Representative.
My first day at work was quite overwhelming. I met a great number of people in a very short time and got my first view of the other side of the game.
What is/are your job(s) at CipSoft? And how your work day looks like?
At the moment my main responsibility is Game Content Designer for TibiaME. In addition I’m responsible for the fansite programme and keep an eye on the proposals and the Game Board.
How my work day looks like depends on the development phase we are in. Typically it starts with me checking out the forums to see if there is anything that needs immediate attention. Then I check if some issues have been forwarded to me from our support. The problems collected from the forum and the issues reported by our support team are collected, if necessary discussed and evaluated, and finally ranked. Then the fixing process begins depending on the rank.
After the fixing it is time to take care of the fansites and any possible issues that may have arisen there.
Finally it is time for the development part. This part ranges from the creation of concepts for new updates to the realisation of the update. It also includes the execution and supervision of the beta tests.
How do you like your job?
I really like my job. There are many different responsibilities and challenges that ensure that it never gets boring. Also it is great for a gamer like me to be part of the creation of a game.
How did you end up with your current role as the head of fansite programme? What sort of things do you do as part of this role?
There was an internal evaluation concerning the best way to optimize our cooperation with the fansites. The results showed that a more direct connection of the fansites to the development team would ensure this. I was a member of the support team before I switched jobs and became a game content designer for TibiaME. So I was offered the job and accepted.
In this part of my job I mostly survey the hidden fansite board, the fansite emails and from time to time I check out the fansites. I collect and process the feedback, the proposals and the request we get from these channels, and pass them on to the responsible departments for proper evaluation. In addition I try to solve any problems the fansites might have and make sure they get the proper data and information.
Do you visit the fansites? And how much of a role do you think fansites have played in TibiaME's success?
Yes, I visit the fansites from time to time to see what goes on.
I think good fansites are very important for the success of a game. They have a community building function and offer additional information, like walkthroughs, that you will not find on official websites.
If you could give your own suggestions for what you look for in a good fansite, what would they be?
Well, for me a good fansite offers a good amount of information on and help for the game. This information should be presented in a clear and usable way. And of course it should always be kept up to date.
One of the roles of a community manager is to gather feedback from the community and to present it to the developers during meetings. However, you are taking feedback from hundreds of players depending on the topic. Balancing vocations for example is a fiercely debated topic going back several years. Every player would like their individual voice to be heard. What is the process involved with gathering and presenting feedback?
I’m not so much a community manager, as I’m part of the development team and head of the fansite programme. So mostly I’m the one the feedback is presented to.
The complete feedback process is quite complex and I can’t go into details here. But in general all feedback that reaches us is collected, reviewed and sorted. Then it is evaluated by the responsible departments and archived for possible future consideration.
There are mixed emotions with the evolution of TibiaME, a large majority of feedback is seemingly negative. However, it could also be argued that those who are happy with the changes are out playing the game and not worrying about posting their feedback. How does the negative feedback impact yourself and your colleagues? And what do you personally think about the evolution of TibiaME through the years?
We register the negative feedback and it is not nice to get it, especially as everybody on the team works hard to create something good for the players. But we also know that, as you already mentioned in your question, that you always will get more negative feedback as positive one. People who are content with what happened are less likely to comment. All the more these comments are cherished. But of course we don’t just discard negative comments. If they are constructive, these are collected as feedback and might even influence future development processes. Obvious useless statements are discarded and ignored.
And of course we use other methods to gather feedback. All channels together help us to get a pretty good overall perspective on the disposition of the community.
In my opinion, there was quite an evolution in TibiaME during its years of existence. Of course some developments were not as well accepted as others and there is still much to do, but all in all I think we did quite well.
Players always say TibiaME now is all about money and rich players will always win. Just after the Microtransaction system was added with the EP/Gold Boosts and Life insurance, that is pretty much destroyed the rankings of the game. And especially that last November, when CipSoft announced the new products of Marketplace about restoring Stamina, unlocking additional attribute and skill points and instant reach of level 50. How did CipSoft discuss this matter before and after the release of this system? And how much do you think that this system benefits the players?
This is complicated question and I am not sure if I give you an answer that is satisfying.
In the beginning of TibiaME there were only two kinds of characters, free and premium. And during this time players who could afford premium had a distinct advantage over players with a free account. With the implementation of the Microtransaction System we implemented a more selective way of payment and an additional type of character, the VIP. This system grants the player more flexibility in what he can to do with his money and gives him permanent benefits over free characters. So the implementation of the MTX system was a benefit for both sides, CipSoft and the players. And with Fyber we even added a method that allows players to acquire platinum for free.
Of course a system like MTX needs products that can be sold. Such products are a result of demand analysis and internal discussion. A demand that is found to exist within the community should be supplied while ensuring that the balance of the game is not disturbed too much. As in many other situations there is no perfect solution. While one part of the community may demand a product, another part might utterly reject it. One possible solution might perfectly fit the demand but will unbalance the game while other ones will not cause any balancing issues but will not fit the demand well enough to be bought. After intense internal discussion we try to work out a compromise and a new product is born.
Take the “Restore Stamina” product as an example. It is based on a player proposal made on the proposal board. There it was well backed as a good method to give honest players an edge over autohunters as they could maximize their hunting results during their shorter online time. So we identified this as a demand of a certain part of the community and discussed the possibilities. The result of our discussion was that we agreed with the players conclusions, as our analysis showed that autohunters are less likely to pay for such a service than honest players. So there should be no serious impact to the balancing. Another example would be the selling of level 50 characters. Even though it is against the rules and has the danger of scamming, many players bought characters from others. And a good part of them got scammed. We got many complaints from those players and so identified a demand for higher level characters. After thorough internal discussion and analysis, we came to the conclusion that we cannot prevent people from buying characters. But we had the possibility to give them a safer way to get a character with an appropriate level. Considering that we did not want to lift the rule against character trading and allow others to profit from our game, we ourselves had to offer the players a character with a higher level. The level limit of the character was also thoroughly discussed. The decision for level 50 was based on the argument, that this was a good way below the lowest level the characters of most of our regular players reached. But also it was high enough to allow new players to get a good way nearer to the vast majorities of our other players, and thereby fulfil their demand without upsetting the game balance too much.
To bring this to a conclusion, I think that this system does benefit the players. Perhaps not all players benefit equally strong, but I think all players benefit.
Every now and then there are some rough moments for TibiaME. Like DDOS attacks, massive game bug and so on. What do situations like this cause to the atmosphere in the office? It can't be fun for yourself and your colleagues to read through the forums and emails during these bad times. Are stress levels increased and tensions high and EVERYBODY PANIC!, or do you all manage to maintain a normal atmosphere?
Of course such situations are not beneficial to the office atmosphere and the stress levels during such times are high. But we do keep it all on a professional level and do our best to solve the problems that arise as soon as possible.
This is of course easier if the causes for such problems internal ones, like it is the case with game bugs or server issues. Much more frustrating are the external problems, like DDOS. Of course we and our service providers do everything we can to prevent such things from happening, and to keep the impact as small as possible. But it is very frustrating to become victim of such a senseless and purely destructive attack, which often is not even aimed at TibiaME. Still even in such situations we try to keep calm and do the best we can to ensure that the problem is solved as quickly as possible.
People usually report autohunters in the forum or by emails, but how do you say: "Yes! This is an autohunter, ban this bastard!" or "No! This is an honest player, give him a cookie!" how do you measure that? Cause we know for fact that autohunt tools can chat and go offline if there is a GM around/online. What do you think about autohunters? What is the progress that CipSoft made to stop it so far?
I know this is a hot topic and of high interest to all TibiaME players, but I am afraid I cannot answer this questions. Answering would reveal too much about our anti autohunter methods. All I can say is that it we are continuously fighting against autohunting. This got harder with more sophisticated autohunting tools, but there are still some tricks to determine if it is a real player or if it is an autohunter.
My personal opinion about autohunting is that it is the lowest form of cheating. Letting a machine do your work only to show of scores you never personally achieved is preposterous. And spoiling other player’s fun by killing the monsters in the hunting grounds for endless hours is simply unfair.
Do you ever take your work to home with you?
This depends on the situation. If there are any acute problems or a test server is running, then I check the board from home to see what’s going on or if I can help.
As a game content designer you just cannot stop working when you leave office. Especially in the concept phase of a new update I gather ideas from everywhere and often also continue planning at home.
Time to talk about the game now. How did you discover TibiaME and what were your first impressions from playing?
I not so much discovered TibiaME but was introduced to it on my first day at CipSoft. At first I was a little awkward and thought it a little too much grinding for my taste, but when I got deeper into the game I really learned to like it.
Can you tell us a little more about your TibiaME experience? What is the highest level character which you have? What vocation is it?
My highest level character is a level 73 Warrior. But I don’t play him at the moment. Right now I’m playing my level 45 Wizard.
The warrior was the first character I made and I pretty much did all the quests with him first. I really liked the offensive way you can play a warrior. But after much hunting and my first boss battle experiences, I decided it was time to go for a wizard.
What sort of activities do you do when you play?
At the moment it is mostly questing with my wizard and sometimes hunting on Banuna or Fabulara. From time to time I reactivate my warrior and try a boss battle or go hunting with some friends.
If you had a chance to change something in TibiaME for yourself, what would it be?
I would implement a more active combat system, but this is technically not possible.
Warrior or wizard? And why? Favourite Island in TibiaME? Favourite Creature in TibiaME? Favourite Weapon and Armour in TibiaME?
As you can read from my former answers I play both and have no favourite vocation. Each one is played a little different and I like the feeling of both.
My favourite island is Solahmar. Why? Because of the mummies! And because I did part of the revamp.
My favourite creature? You really need to ask that? The mummy of course!
Favourite armour and weapon…. Even though I don’t own it with any of my characters, my favourite armour set is the forcedeflect set. I simply love how the graphic design team did this. The same goes with for my favourite weapon, the Devourer of Souls.
What are the plans on 2015 for TibiaME?
I am sorry but I can spoiler any of our plans, but we are working hard on the next update and hope you will like it.
Can you tell us more about the secrets of TibiaME?
There still are some secrets in the world of TibiaME that were not yet discovered and there are some new secret places that are not yet accessible or visited by any player. Perhaps some of you wondered about the island in the centre of Ephialtis…
Can you give us a photo of your work place? Or something interesting!
I do not know if it is interesting, but this is my workplace.
Thank you very much for your time and your answers Karvar. We hope that you enjoyed answering them and that they weren't too difficult to deal with. Do you have anything you would like to say to the players reading this interview?
Thank you for asking me for an interview. It was a great honour and fun, even though some questions were a little tricky to answer without giving away internals.
Of course I would like to say some last words to the players reading the interview. First I want to thank you for actually reading it. I hope you liked it and got a little insight in what we are doing here.
Second I want to thank all of you for playing our game and hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy working on it.
I see you all in TibiaME… of course you will not know it is me.
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