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Exclusive interview with Umrath!
Tibia operations manager
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Data dołączenia: 19.12.2010
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Rteger from Celesta
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Tytuł: Squire of Tibia
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Let us present you our exclusive interview with Umrath, CipSoft operations manager. Enjoy your read! emotka Xelenty is the author of the graphics.


At first, tell us something about you - what is your name, how old are you, where do you live, what did you study?

My name is Thoralf Will, I'm 36 years old and I live, you might have guessed it, in Regensburg.
I studied computer science.

obrazek
CC-BY-SA/@BARTJEZ.cc


What is your hobby? How do you spend your free time?

Most of my time I spend with my 4 years old son. In my free time I'm very active in politics. I'm district chairman for a rather new party and we are going to have 3 elections next month *. So currently, I spend almost all my remaining free time campaining. When I'm not doing that, I like to play Ingress if there is any time left to relax. Yes, I'm level 8. emotka


How and when did you meet CipSoft? What did your interview look like? Where did your nick come from?

I started working for CipSoft in 2003 already as a System Administrator. I was one of the very first employees, so my interview was very different back then in comparison to the more professional style nowadays. I got invited by Steve to Regensburg where I met him and Durin and it was a rather relaxed interview back then. I got my working contract shortly after.
My nick is a mix of former character names that I used in other games. There is no deeper meaning to it.


How does labour division between you, Craban and new product manager look like? It will be a completely new person or someone from inside?

Craban leads the team. He's responsible for Tibia as a whole, coordinates with the management, etc.
I'm responsible for day-to-day business. Therefore my internal and official title has been changed to "Operations Manager". That means I'm responsible for applying updates, fixing issues that the support cannot handle, handling bugs and bugfixes - generally making sure that everything "just runs". This doesn't sound like much, but believe me, running a 16 year old game is quite a challenge.

Our new product manager will start in October. He will be responsible for developing new features and updates, much like Skyrr was. This task is currently handled by Craban and partly by me, too, in addition to our regular workload, so we are really looking forward to our new colleague!


What lacked in Fiction Fighters to become a success? Have you recapped any conclusions from it?

We analyzed various parts of the whole project to examine this question and learn for future projects.
One main mistake we identified was our focus on technical matters instead of the game itself. We started out with the idea to do something with rendering comic panels and tried to develop a game around it. Bad idea.


You have been working on FF for a long time, to abandon it 2 weeks after announcing a contest and opening it for a really wide audience (day of publishing news about FF at tibia.com). Why haven't you tried to fight for players?
obrazek

We tried. It was first opened many months before as a preview and we quickly recognized that Fiction Fighters wasn't retaining players. Lots of people came and left just a few minutes later. So we changed major parts of the game and tried again. The contest was meant to attract enough players to fill the servers quickly and to attract pvp players - our main focus for Fiction Fighters.

Many players came, played some - and left. When we noticed that we wouldn't be able to retain enough players to have a growing community, it was clear to us that the game was just not good enough.


What happened to the people that have been working on FF? How big was the team? You work on Tibia now, what about the others?

The Fiction Fighters team was a lot smaller than the Tibia team. We were 3 programmers, 2 graphics artists, 1 content designer and 2 product managers. 4 of my former team members are working on a new prototype now, the others have joined the Tibia and TibiaME teams.


9 months after shutting down FF, you have launched a new projects - InfecTD and Summonia. What are further plans about these games?

I'm absolutely not involved in these projects. I have no idea what the future plans are. Btw, the content designer and one of the programmers on the InfecTD prototype were former Fiction Fighters team members, as well.


Asking in a bit populistic way – isn’t it better to keep improving Tibia and TibiaME instead of not always successful developing new games?

We do both. Tibia has by far the biggest team here and we invest a lot of resources to develop it further. TibiaME is also updated regularly. But it's necessary to develop new games as well, in order to remain successful in the long run and to stay competitive.


Now something about present topic: while it was announced patches may be split into parts because of changes in your work flow, you did the same with summer update. It was an exception or would you rather prefer to split all updates and patches?

It was me who pushed the changed work flow. As you might have noticed we have started to roll out changes in smaller chunks but rather frequently. I prefer to work this way because it's easier to isolate a possible problem if the changes are smaller. Additionally we get the benefit that features are available faster.

To answer the question: Yes, I'd like to keep it that way and Craban is backing my decision. That doesn't mean that we will get rid of bigger summer and winter updates though.


One more question about issue which keep our minds busy in these days. DDoS attacks are caused by people. Do you work with investigative authorities in order to catch them? Have any of them been arrested, sentenced?

I'm afraid, I'm not involved in any legal activities concerning DDoS attacks, neither can I make any statements about that. The coordination and cooperation with our providers and data centers is handled by the tech department.

On a general note though, sometimes DDos attacks are that big, that the data centers themselves are affected and more services are experiencing problems, whether they were the actual target of the attack or not. In such cases, I would assume, that it would even be possible for the data centers to contact the authorities.

So - while I don't know if anyone has ever been sentenced, I sure hope so. And since there are so many parties that can file legal complaints in case of big DDos-attacks, chances are high that some attackers have been caught in the past, in my opinion.


Let's move in time to the 28th May, the day when you announced "Additional Death Information" feature. It caused two serious bugs in a row, servers went back to the normal state at 16 CEST. What happens in the office on such days? Is it kind of serious hustle and bustle, who is responsible for dealing with such problems and how does it look like?

Staying calm is the most important thing if something goes south.

The feature itself required some serious changes "under the hood" - and subsequently broke some functionality for a very special case. Gladly we were able to identify the problem quickly - but naturally it takes some time to code it, test it - and finally deploy it. At the same time we had to reset all game worlds if I'm not mistaken. That's not a 5 minutes task either.

And yes, it's my job to coordinate the fire fighting. In cases where it's not 100% obvious what went wrong I sit down with testers, programmers and content designers to talk about the issue.
obrazek

One of the key questions that I have to answer are: What possible impact does the problem have? Do we need to shut down the servers immediately to prevent further damage?

Often those questions cannot be answered with 100% certainty, so I need to measure the consequences and decide based on my conclusions.


When things like in the previous question happen, both Auditorium and fansite forums are flooded with "lol amateurs they cant even implement the small patch without problems haha" and similar statements. How do you feel with it? Are the players wrong when they post such things? Why?

Community Management handles boards and feedback. I only get the condensed version, which doesn't contain any of the flaming but only facts.

Tibia is more than 16 years old by now and while many parts have been changed during the years - the underlying concept and a lot of the functionality is older than some of our players. It's pretty much impossible to change a significant feature without breaking something on a completely unexpected place. The key question: Do the testers find this unexpected place? - usually they do. But you can test only so much. At some point you have to call it a day and decide "Ok, I think it's working as expected." - and ship it.

You could compare Tibia to a Ford T-model, that, over the years, has been remodeled to turn into a fairly modern sedan. The base is still a 100 years old car. So we have to expect some quirks and problems now and then.


What's current interest on Flash among players? What's the tendency: upward or downward?

The interest is slowly rising but still far from the level that we had hoped to reach.

What do you plan to increase popularity of Flash? Craban in last year's interview for TibiaBR announced reducing hardware requirements and introducing downloadable flash client- what's current progress on these projects?

That's still on the agenda. We are constantly working to improve the performance. We will have a look at Adobe Air, too, but that's not exactly within my responsibility, so I cannot give any reliable information on that.


Some time ago CipSoft set a rule about almost unlimited freedom for players… The effects are in fact dead worlds like Ocera (the private world of one guild) or Premia. Why even when facing a massive negative feedback about it (for example on January’s tutor meeting) it is still so important for you?

Tibia lives and breathes this freedom. If we abandon that, we abandon Tibia.

Yes, there are drawbacks to this "unlimited freedom" and we are already working on improvements here.


Changes in PvP from 2009 and 2010 were in fact crushed by players, opinions about the newest improvements are mostly negative as well. Aren’t you sometimes fed up with everything when almost every Cip’s proposal about PvP meets negative feedback?

I started playing Tibia in 1998, and working for CipSoft in 2003 already, so I have an idea how the community reacts to pretty much any bigger change. Back then players declared v4 and v5 to be cool and predicted v6 and v7 to be Tibia's demise.

The predictions of the downfall of Tibia haven't changed, they come with each update, and they won't change, no matter what CipSoft does. It is in human nature to dislike bigger changes at first, or at least to be sceptical about them, especially if they involve changes to daily routines. We will see what the future brings.


Are you happy with the concept of preview worlds? How do you consider their development after more than a year of their existence?

The idea is brilliant and I'm very happy that they exist.

I "abused" the preview worlds to test the summer update on 2 servers before rolling it out on the 79 regular worlds. That's something that we couldn't do before.


You announced in August 2011 that it’s possible to take from druids away ability of using SDs. It regularly comes back as a rumor and sows players – what’s your opinion about it today?

I can certainly tell you my personal opinion here. One of the characters that I played for years is a druid after all.
obrazek

I'd love to see a more distinct role for druids. I'd love to get more specialized spells and runes and I would be willing to sacrifice the ability to use SDs for that. But I have no idea how the real internal plans have evolved and what will really happen in the end.


In the poll not so long time ago you asked players if they noticed your improvement in 2013. Nearly 75% said yes and pointed out especially better effectiveness of anti-cheating measures or something being asked for years – changing respawn rate. What did you exactly change – work’s organization, attitude to players? Do you plan to continue it? And… why so late? emotka

A lot has changed. As you may have seen, many, many high level cheaters got deleted. We are constantly, and that's really not a hallow promise, improving our systems and processes to catch cheaters. I'm confident that the happy times for botters are over. No cheater can feel safe anymore.
Concerning work organization, we actually did some heavy internal re-structuring lately. The feedback we received from players helps us to know that we are on the right path, and that the work we put into these internal changes also does pay off in the end.
obrazek

Chayenne’s key riddle… on Tibiopedia’s forum 887 replies and more than 113 000 views, on the Gameplay board more than 2500 replies and 180 000 views. The great riddle which kept minds of Tibians busy for nearly 2 months… will we face more quests like that?

Erm, what? Ask me about the paradox tower quest line and I can answer you pretty much anything, from my player perspective. I was the first on my server to ever solve it. For a CipSoft opinion, I'm afraid you'll have to ask someone from the content department, for example.


Now a typical question. Do you play Tibia? If yes, what is your level?

I don't play very actively anymore but I used to play a lot for years. I was hunting the evil Chaotic as a member of the good "Guards" guild - back when he was the highest level in Tibia. I even was on top in distance fighting on my paladin for months back in 2003. The highest level that I've ever reached was 74, I think - back then that was already a considerably high level, back when Bubble was still leading the charts.

Will players ever meet you on test servers? You rather stay in shadow emotka

Maybe.
Some have surely met me on test servers already up until 2007. I used to run around as "Greeny" back then.


What do you like most in your job? What is it for you?
obrazek

I have a lot of responsibility. Unlike for most others, there is no safety system that protects me from breaking stuff. Programmers, content designers, graphics artists, game designers - they all have testers and other team members that will look at their work and check it for errors before it's pushed to the servers. If I make a mistake 81 servers might grind to an immediate halt. If I'm careless, I might delete the whole database with a single command. At the same time I can surprise players by pushing out the summer update in a little more than 2 hours only. My job is challenging and ever changing. I like that.


Tibia and CipSoft in 10 years… reading the tea leaves or maybe you have some predictions?

Ok, wild dreams, here we go:

Tibia 2 is the biggest game in CipSoft's portfolio. Tibia is still running but has been consolidated to 20 servers with an average of 500 players per server.

The Tibia Nano Edition is the successor to TibiaME. It's a total revamp and has been ported to Google Glass years ago. It uses augmented reality to map dungeons on the real map.

Please don't take any of this as valid plans for CipSoft, these are just some wild phantasies!


In the end, is it anything you want to tell people reading this interview… who use illegal software and cheat?

Save your time and money. You will regret it.

Thank you for all the answers for our questions! Now let’s see what Tibiopedia users prepared for you.


Grosh napisał(a):
If you crushed a snail by mistake, would you take it home, wash him, make a new shell from modeling clay and let it go with enough compensation to buy 3 kilos of cabbage?


If I crushed the snail I wouldn't need to make it a new home because it will be dead. emotka


Yoori napisał(a):
Do you plan to promote the game in any way which would allow to bring more young players?


We already do. Last year we started promoting Tibia via ads and we will continue to do that. We are also still learning quite a lot here.

Darkside_the_ghost napisał(a):
Are you going to add in the future any passwords for bank or deposit, which would help to minimize losses while being hacked?


I'm not a fan of that idea because I fail to see how this would increase security.
Personally, I would prefer to add 2-factor authentication to Tibia.

*The mentioned party is the Pirate Party, since some time a stable one on the German polital scene. It has its representatives in some landtags - German states parliaments. The three mentioned elections are the Bundestag (German parliament) one, Bavaria's landtag one as well as Bezirkstagswahl - Bavaria is divided into 7 parts called Bezirkastags, Bezirkstagswahls are the parliaments of them. The current surveys gives the Pirate Party from 2 to 4 % of votes, the same in whole Germany and in Bavaria.


Thank you for the interview, we hope others will like it as well as we do!
______________

11:39 Ricsson [257]: w ogole
11:39 Ricsson [257]: uwierzylem w boga, w cuda
11:39 Ricsson [257]: mialem 6 piw
11:39 Ricsson [257]: wypilem 6 piw
11:39 Ricsson [257]: otwieram rano plecak
11:40 Ricsson [257]: mam 3 piwa
18 sierpnia 2013 godz. 23:15:32
Edytował rteger
19 sierpnia 2013 godz. 12:16:32
Podziękowali: Elais
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Data dołączenia: 04.11.2011
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Leyla Heartless
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Hahaha, sucha epic arts! XD
Fun to read interviews as always! emotka)




L.
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18 sierpnia 2013 godz. 23:42:51
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