Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Important notice

I am flattered, that this blog is getting more popular. However, as usual, the good comes with the bad. Therefor I would like to remind you, that this blog is NO, I repeat, NO official channel of communication of CipSoft. It is not even a supported fansite. This is a private blog. So, in order to not getting you in any trouble I strongly recommend to NOT link to this blog in game, on the forums or anywhere else, where the Tibia rules might be applicable.

And as usual, I cannot be held responsible for any damage this blog might do to you, your computer, your account, your reputation, health, partnership, country, planet or whatever might come into my mind now or in the distant future. I know you'll understand.

In order to not to lead you into any temptation, I'll close this blog until further notice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Confess ...

I managed to get hold of Craban, the éminence grise, the puller of strings, the devil in disguise. Now, as he is safely locked up in my personal dungeon (the wine cellar), I will take the opportunity to extract the truth from this Tibian Titan by all means, shall it be poking with soft cushions or even making him sit in the comfy chair.
This is your one time chance to submit questions you always wanted to get answers to. Just post them in a comment to this thread and I will personally take care of the delivery.


I will of course tape this "interrogation" on camera.

Note: The person shown above is NOT crabs. It is a stunt double. In addition, the picture is fake, photoshoped, repainted. Crabs has never been arrested for being over 6ft tall.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to drop questions, change questions, come up with my own questions and to actually do with this project anything I could possibly think of right now or in the near future. I cannot be held responsible for any damage this interview might do to your computer, your character or your government.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's done

Most of you won't understand a word as it is in German, but anyway.
Writer, director, main actor and narrator: ME(rcutio)

video

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sneak Preview

Today, we filmed our trailer. We recorded enough scenes for a full movie, I guess. Here is a sneak preview. I can tell you, that helmet was heavy !!!


Here is another one: Judigator's USB-Rocket Launcher played an important role as well:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

FAQ

Welcome to my new video project. I already have a few ideas for my next videos and one very simple idea is to collect questions from you and get them answered by CipSoft members. All this will be caught on camera.
If you post a question, please indicate if you have a preferred person to answer it. I give you an example:

To Mercutio: Are you really that good looking or is your profile pic just a fake computer graphics by JanPedro?

I think you get my drift. :D So, now it's up to you. Shoot.

Disclaimer: I can neither guarantee that your question will be picked nor that it will be answered by your preferred Cip member. Maybe I just have to dress up like every single Cip member and fake their answers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The laugh is always on the looser.

I love my colleagues. Check this out. Our graphics artist made this for me. I wonder how long it takes to get rid of this again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Held der Arbeit

I completely blew it today and printed the wrong URL on the cover of a local magazine. From tomorrow on, 30.000 copies will flood Regensburg and give proof of my incompetence. How stupid is that. An internet company that cannot even publish a correct URL.
For this extraordinary achievement, I received this award from my colleagues. I know it is in German, but this can hardly be translated. So, for all of you, who understand German: Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

6 hours ...

... until I have to get up again, as I am going to Leipzig tomorrow. The GC (Games Convention) is one of the biggest fairs of the gaming industry world wide. I hope to meet a lot of interesting people, get a bag of new ideas (and merchandise stuff from competitors) and over all to have a bloody good time with colleagues and friends. I wonder if I'll end up drinking with that Nokia girl again ...

Oh, by the way: At this very moment, the Amsterdam video is the 37th most popular video (from Germany) of the week. :D Thanks. I thought it might be interesting, but that is really amazing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back ...

... in action. Amsterdam was great. The city and the convention were really a blast.
I was impressed by the fact how much love, time and effort our players are investing into their hobby. The room has been decorated with so much love, so many presents have been prepared in Tibia style, and most important of all, everybody was talking about the game with so much passion. This really gives you a kick and shows you who you are doing all the work for. A convention is a big boost for your motivation to make the game better and to always have your community in mind, whatever you do. Thanks for the invitation girls.
Tibiacity published some pictures. Check them out, if you're interested.
By the way: I was really lucky with the flights. Most of the flights to and from Amsterdam were canceled, except mine. I am such a lucky bastard.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lufthansa ...

... is on strike. Brilliant. Don't they know that I am flying to Amsterdam on Friday and hopefully back to Munich on Sunday. I bet they know and just don't care. From what I found out, the flight just before mine got canceled. Same applies to the Sunday flight. This means, I will have a lot of fun at the check-in counter as a complete airbus-amount of passengers will still be grounded at the airport. Hurray. I am sure they are all very happy, don't care at all about the delay and would never give me that "You idiot, you got your flight huh? Show-off!"-look. And at the same time, Lufthansa is telling me that I am not allowed to carry any self defense weapons with me. Thanks.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I wonder ...

... how long it will take, until you find out. :-)

Edit: 8 hours till now, and still counting.
Edit: 11:23 pm ! Finally. Congratz Matt!
Edit: Well, I am actually surprised how long it took. I thought, our website gets scanned on a regular basis. Obviously not. For all of you, who still don't know, what I am talking about, check this out. Fiction Fighters. That's our new game.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Amsterdam ...

... shall it be. I've just booked my flight to visit the Tibia convention in Amsterdam in 3 weeks. This will actually be the first convention for me and I am really excited to see so many of our Tibia players in RL. I already have many plans on what to take with me as presents and goodies. Gosh, I am really looking forward to the trip. In addition, I will extend my stay for the whole weekend so I get to see the lovely city of Amserdam once again. Last time I've been there must have been 25 years ago, when I travelled through Europe with my parents. I still don't have an hotel yet, but I found a house boat you can book. I definitely want that.

Edit: I talked to my mom. It was actually 29 years ago, that I've been to Amsterdam. Gosh, I am old.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Making money ...

... is legitimate. I always get confused, when we are accused of making money. Why are people accusing us of being successful? Everybody wants to be successful in what he is doing. When you're in school, you wanna get good grades, when you meet a girl, you like to hear "You are a lovely guy". Well, when you do business, one of the key indicators is "sales". You're having a crappy product, you don't sell it. You listen to your customers and design the product according to their needs, you sell more. Is this kind of behaviour THAT condemnable?
No, we are not a students project anymore. We are a company. This basically means two things:
1. We are professionals
2. We have to earn money
The good comes with the bad. The bad part about it is that we have to think about success, and not only fun anymore. I have to admit that we evaluate projects.
The good part is that we can offer customer support, regular updates and not to forget a certain probability of not having to shut down your favourite game next week due to a shortage of funds.
So, to conclude my Saturday night rant: Whoever posts comments like "You only revamp Rookgard to make it more appealing to new customers and to make more money". Yes. You are right. Don't state the obvious. My advice to you is: Take marketing lessons. You obviously have a talent for it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

DDoS - Interview

I know, I haven't postet for a while. Sorry for that. Anyway, I thought I piost an interview, I gave to some of our fansites, concerning DDoS attacks. Maybe you'll find it interesting:

[Mercutio]: First of all, thanks for the invitation and for giving us the opportunity to talk about the recent incidents. I hope this interview helps to clarify some aspects and to answer some of the most interesting questions. Now, let's get started ....

[TibiaCity]: What are DDoS attacks?

[Mercutio]: Technically, DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Although that sounds a bit rough, it already mentions the key aspects of these kinds of attacks. Many attackers try to force your system into not performing its service. Right, now that was really rough.

In general it works like this: The attacker distributes a small program via the internet to many other computers. This is possible as many people do not really care about or do not really know much about protecting their own PCs from malicious software. After a few weeks this program might have infected hundreds or even thousands of remote computers. So, what does this program do now? Nothing, it just sits on its' host-machine waiting for orders. In the meantime, the attacker gets regular updates on the amount of PCs already infected with his little program. As soon as he thinks the amount of infected PCs is big enough to be successful, he starts his attack. How? He commands all his distributed programs to repeatedly send some data to a specific target at a specific moment.

On our side, we have to examine every incoming data package in order to find out if this is a valid command from one of our players or not. So, the information the attacker sends might be complete nonsense. Unfortunately we have to find out on our side if it really is nonsense or not, as we don’t forward nonsense to our game servers.

The more nonsense the attacker sends, the longer it takes to separate it from valid information. That’s what the normal player experiences in form of lags and kicks. The game servers are running smooth and easy all the time.

That was the technical explanation. For all of you who stopped after the third line, I’ll try to explain it with a real life example: Imagine a big concert which takes place at a football stadium. It is obvious that only ticket holders get access to the concert and are asked to come inside. Now usually people who don’t have a ticket don’t show up at the gates, so the bouncer doesn’t have too much to do.
Unfortunately, the band is so famous that a lot of fake tickets have been sold on the black market. Now the bouncer has to examine every single ticket very carefully. This takes time and delays the entry process even for the fans with valid tickets. Now imagine there are 10,000 times more fake tickets around than valid ones. Now that’s what I call a lag. In the meantime, the show inside the stadium goes on normally.

[TibiaBR]: Why is it so hard to solve this problem?

[Mercutio]: The most important reason is that not everything lies in our hands. Please don’t get me wrong. This isn’t meant to be an excuse and I completely understand that our players don’t care whose responsibility it is – they just want to have a trouble free gaming experience. But sadly enough, that’s the truth. We collaborate with many partners such as service providers, data centres, hardware manufacturers, etc. Some of the issues can only be solved or at least addressed by them.

If I may use the concert example again: We might have control over the bouncers and decide to hire better or even more of them, but we have little to no influence on the amount of entrance gates the stadium has. So it makes no sense to have 1000 bouncers at a single gate. And even if we could convince the owners of the stadium to install more gates, the problem just shifts to an earlier stage: the limited amount of highways leading to the stadium. Can we convince the town to build more of them? Hardly. I think you get my point.

[TibiaHispano]: Are the DDoS attacks a way to get information about the players?

[Mercutio]: Nope. As I’ve explained, DDoS attacks only have the purpose to jam the entry, not the server itself. I am using the concert example again: People with fake tickets don’t get in and therefore don’t get to listen to the music.

[TibiaMx]: In which way do the DDoS attacks interfere with the game server or the website?

[Mercutio]: Once again, usually they don’t have a technical influence on the servers. It’s the access that gets jammed.

[TibiaHispano]: Why is it that DDoS attacks have a bigger effect on companies such as CipSoft in comparison to e.g. Google?

[TibiaNews]: Yes, could you tell us a bit about the technical side of Tibia in general?

[Craban]: To answer this question, I have to explain the main differences of a service like Tibia and e.g. Google. The biggest difference is the server infrastructure. If you log in on a a game world with your character, and your friend also logs in on the same game world, you are actually both on the same server. This is necessary as all actions you perform with your character (moving, talking, fighting, etc) have an immediate and direct influence on not only the character of your friend, but on the game world as a whole. So, we need to control and monitor all of those actions on one server. This does not apply at all to the service Google is offering. If I search for “Tibia” in Google I might most likely end up on a server in Germany. If you look up the expression “Tibia” you might end up somewhere in the U.S., but, even if all Google servers in Europe were down, I can still be redirected to a sever in the U.S. and still get the same result – without even knowing that all European servers are down.

I'll use Mercutio's concert example: I can call 100 friends of mine all over the world to ask them where and when the concert will take place, but to actually listen to it, I surely have to be at a specific place at a given point in time.

The second big difference is the way our game clients communicate with the servers. We are establishing a persistent and synchronised communication between the clients and the server. This means it is absolutely essential that all actions on one game server happen at the same time in a synchronised manner.
Within an online game, interaction is a key feature. Interaction means that whatever I do has an immediate effect on everybody else. Let’s say I am attacking you, then you have to be informed about my attack immediately. During a DDoS attack we don’t get any data from the players, as the connections are jammed. Therefore we do not know what you are all doing at this moment. As the server is still running, your character is still online as well, we just receive no commands regarding what to do with this character. To avoid any unfair advantages of one character over the other, we log-out characters automatically after the player’s client hasn’t answered for a given period of time.

A Google search does not depend on this restriction. When I search for “Tibia”, Google might look this up on 12 different servers on 3 different continents. Whenever Google thinks it has finished searching, it will publish the results. The worst thing that can happen to me is that I get the results a little later than usual. However, “later” is not an option in Tibia.

[TibiaNews]: Are there any servers that aren't being affected by the attacks?

[Mercutio]: Nope. All servers are under attack all the time. It’s just that most of the attacks are so weak that you and sometimes even we don’t notice them.

[TibiaBR]: Seems that the attacks affect mostly US servers... what German servers got different from US ones in terms of security measures?

[Mercutio]: We installed a device called “ocean”. It is a large liquid basin, which acts as a natural firewall. :-) No, seriously. In general, both data centres are alike, however we do have more possibilities to change the configuration of the hardware in Germany - and their staff is reacting faster as well. In addition, German servers are just not getting attacked as much.

[TibiaMX]: Who is responsible for the attacks? Is it possible to track their source?

[Craban]: Yes, it's not easy but it is possible. It requires a coordinated investigation of a few different parties, but up till now, we have been quite successful with these investigations.

[TibiaNews]: Are they Tibia players?

[Mercutio]: Yes. Their main characters are called …..

[Craban]: Stop that! We agreed not to start a manhunt. (And even if we did, I want to be first!)

[TibiaNews]: Can you take proper legal action?

[Craban]: Yes, and we did and will go on doing that. Unfortunately, this is a really time consuming process. We have to consider many national and international laws, which can be completely different to German law. In addition, internet law still isn’t coordinated worldwide, so what might be illegal in one country isn’t in another. However, we are already working together with international partners and are determined to bring the attackers to court. After all they have caused great disappointment to our players.

[TibiaCity]: Why is Tibia under DDoS attacks?

[Mercutio]: Most of the attacks concentrate on a few servers, so we think we are dealing with a personal vendetta, which is used to take revenge over in-game issues. And in some cases I suspect it is just plain boredom. But the attackers shouldn’t forget that what they are doing is highly criminal. Starting a war in game is one thing, attacking servers in reality is something completely different.

[TibiaBR]: What's the size in gigabytes of the attacks your servers are currently suffering?

[Mercutio]: If I answered this question, I could just as well give you a detailed plan on how to bring our service down. Please understand that we cannot share this kind of technical information. So I am really sorry, but I have to use the red “Confidential” stamp on this file.

[TibiaNews]: How much data is coming and going through Tibia on an average day?

[Mercutio]: -prepares the red stamp again but takes a look at Durin first-

[Durin]: All game worlds and the website produce about 1600 GB per day.

[TibiaNews]: At what point in time did Tibia start receiving DDoS attacks?

[Durin]: Right from the start, but it got really nasty during 2007 with a boost in October.

[TibiaNews]: Is there a possibility that they may attack the official fansites as well?

[Mercutio]: Sure, and they already have. -points to [TibiaBR]-

[TibiaBR]: Sometime ago CipSoft mentioned that they were testing some new hardware for the servers, in order to resist better to the attacks. How are these tests going?

[Mercutio]: Over the last weeks, we have thoroughly tested the best machines from all leaders in the industry. It was quite a surprise for us as well, that even the world’s leading manufacturers had problems coming up with hardware that meets our demands. So we finally ended up with the biggest machine we could find out there. Our technicians say it is the “BFG” of internet security. :-)

[Durin]: We plan to have it “mounted and loaded” in mid May.

[TibiaNews]: What are some of your methods of combating the DDoS attacks?

[Mercutio]: Before you can solve a problem, you have to understand it. So the first thing we did was examine the nature, character and origin of the attacks. I have to admit that this phase took us too long. We tried to find the ultimate solution, rather than implementing the first countermeasures right away. After that, we tried out a few things that looked good in books, but turned out to be useless. In the end, we had to learn the hard way. So we’ve really burnt some time back then. Unfortunately our players had to bear the consequences for that.
After this, we decided to go for a double strategy: Upgrades to our hardware and redesign of our technical infrastructure. I’ve already talked about the new hardware. The new infrastructure enables us to better configure all hardware components involved and therefore be better protected against attacks.
In order to stay with the example I could say: We equipped the bouncers with super fast ticket verification devices and placed them at strategic points.

[TibiaBR]: Has CipSoft ever considered the possibility of moving dedicated servers to a better provider?

[Mercutio]: Yes, and we already did. We found a new data centre in the U.S. which is capable of implementing all the security measures I’ve mentioned above. 50% of our American servers have already been moved to the new data centre, the rest will follow sooner or later.

[TibiaMX:] Can you already tell, that the move to a new data centre brought better protection concerning attacks?

[Mercutio]: Yes, we already can see the difference.

[TibiaNews]: Will this have influence on the creation of new servers in the future? (If so, in what way?)

[Craban]: Ahm, well, yes and no. Yes, every new server we may put up in the future will of course be configured and protected with all measures we have at that point of time. No, neither attacks nor countermeasures will influence the decision on whether we put up new servers or non in any way.

[TibiaNews]: We realize that once a problem has been fixed, someone will always try to find a way to break past that solution. Do you ever think that Tibia will be totally DDoS free?

[Mercutio]: Plain and simple: No. We will always be under attack. The real question is: Will the players notice that we are under attack? I think we've gathered a lot of know-how over the past weeks regarding this issue, so we are pretty damn good in defence right now. Still, it’s a constant race….

[TibiaNews]: How long until this current strand of attacks will last?

[Mercutio]: Well, I haven’t spoken to the attackers lately, so you should ask them, not me.

[TibiaNews]: Do you roughly know how long it will take for the DDoS attacks to be fixed?

[Mercutio]: We are very optimistic that the measures we have taken will dramatically reduce the effects of the DDoS attacks on the availability of our service. I’ve explained what we did and when we did it or plan to do it. I also want to stress that we’ve put great effort in not only solving the past problems but also in being better prepared in the future. I am not saying “mission accomplished” but all in all, we’re out of the woods by now.

[TibiaBR]: Brazilian players (and we believe other players too) are very angry because of servers' instability, blaming CipSoft for it. What can you say to them?

[Mercutio
]: Although we cannot be held responsible for the attacks themselves, I can understand that many of our players are disappointed by the way we handled the situation. We have to admit that we made some mistakes and spent too much time on analysing and trying out different solutions. Overall it took us too long to implement effective countermeasures.
Besides, we have been criticised for our information policy, more precisely, the lack of information we were giving out to the community. Of course we understand that our players want to get a regular update on the situation, above all what they want to know is if it is safe to go hunting again. On the other hand, every piece of information we share might be useful to the attackers as well. We always had to weigh those two aspects against each other. Unfortunately, the “confidential” side won many times.

To conclude: Yes, we are reading our own boards and we have seen all those posts filled with disappointment, frustration and even anger. Yes, we have a pretty good view on the community’s mood. Yes, we can understand them. So, what can I give as reply?

I would like to apologize to our community. We have been caught quite unprepared and failed to react adequately. Ever since the first strike, we were trying hard to bring all systems back to normal and to ensure a trouble free gaming experience. This didn’t work out as planned all the time, but we actually left no stone unturned to come to a satisfying solution. We finally found it. We are really sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and thank you all for your patience and the constant trust you have put in us.

[Fansites]: Any last words?

[Mercutio]: Once again, thanks for having us here and giving us the opportunity to talk to all of you. Keep up the good work with your fansites.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mercutio meets Mozart


I am off. I'll be on vacation for the next two weeks. Going to Austria to meet a friend and to celebrate his birthday. After that, we'll get in the car and drive to wherever the road takes us. I'll be checking the blog once in a while and maybe keep you updated on the "bottle count". Who knows, I might even upload a picture of my "Mercutio meets Mozart" tour. Take care and happy easter.

Update: Back in Regensburg. The picture has been taken in Bratislava. That's in Slovakia - and yes, I grew a beard.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Cheaters are evil, …

… aren’t they? Generally, cheating is considered as dishonourable behaviour. This makes of course sense, as every game, may it be an ancient board game like chess or a modern online game only provides fun to all players, if everyone sticks to the rules - rules that have been predefined and agreed upon. Doesn’t that sound strange, providing fun by sticking to rules? No, it doesn’t. In my opinion, games to a very large extend imitate basic concepts of the real world and life. As in real life, you loose all your respect and honour by breaking the rules. Just think of the saying: “Gambling debts are debts of honour”. At times, where everybody has a bank loan of € 150.000 a gambling dept of € 25 is still considered a question of honour.
Cheating on your fellow players is considered as bad. A 5th ace, a short look in your opponents cards – men have been killed for less.

In an interview I gave to one of our fansites, I said: “I don’t understand cheaters, as I don’t see the benefits. Achieving my goal is only satisfying to me if I had to work hard for it.” Or as my father always used to say: “No pain, no gain.”

So, cheaters are evil, aren’t they? In our own game we do have a lot of people that don’t seem to share my opinion. Now I can ask myself, why is that? I am quite sure, they wouldn’t cheat in chess, but they do in Tibia. Why is that? Is it because they don’t have to look into their opponents eyes when they stab them from behind? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, right now they get punished in accordance with our rule enforcement policy. Hell yeah, good so. No mercy. We make the rules – don’t break the rules.

On the other hand, I am getting paid for trying to take the customers point of view and to understand them – and NOT to condemn them. So, once again: Why are they cheating?
Because they don’t like certain aspects of our game play! They think those aspects are only time consuming, useless or even boring. Boring, now that’s an association I don’t wanna have in one of my customers’ head. Well, if it’s boring, they’re adjusting it to their needs. That’s what they do.

Can we punish this kind of behaviour? Yes, we can. Can we ignore the reasons behind this kind of behaviour? We most definitely cannot.
We are making a game for our customers, not for ourselves. If a fair amount of our players think that some aspects of the game are boring, we should think about how to make it more interesting. That’s our bloody job. That’s what we get paid for. I could say: Cheating is a very blunt and risky way of our customers to tell us that our game needs improvement.

This doesn’t mean that we are willing to follow all customer requests. I hate to say that, but sometimes they just don’t know what’s good for them. Most players of our game hate the pretty harsh death penalty. If we asked them, they would tell us to get rid of it, and if there was a cheat to countermeasure the death penalty, it would be sold on the black market for the price of 10 Premium Accounts, believe me. So, should we lower our death penalty significantly as so many of our players seem to hate it? Nope, not at all. That’s part of the Tibia experience, which makes the game so unique. Abandon it and you killed the game.

So, too conclude: If you wanna improve your product, listen to everybody, even the cheaters. In the meantime: Prosecute them! They're cheaters after all - and men have been killed for less. ;-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's a girl ...

... I think. Well, you can never be that sure. No, I haven't become a father. If I had, I guess I would have a rather clear idea about the sex of my baby.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple in the virtual world. Don't get me wrong, it is an important part of online communities to be able to hide some aspects of your real personality. It gives you freedom, lets you interact with people you'd never talk to in the real world. And let's be honest, everybody tries to hide some things. You do that on a real date too. At least I do.

So, why should it be any different in online communities? However, hiding some aspects (like "Oh no, I am not balled") cannot put you on a totally wrong track as changing your sex can. I mean, imagine you're meeting a "sexy, trendy wendy frappachino" babe and after you've sent her 7867 cute kiss smiley's she tells you: "Oh, by the way. My name is Frank the Tank".

That is really embarrassing. Even more, if you're head of marketing department and known in your community. I could as well flush my reputation down the toilet.
Well, I've just read a forum signature that suits here:
"Welcome to the internet, where men are men, women are men and teenage girls are FBI agents."

I guess, the only thing I can be absolutely sure about is my own sex.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stupid ...

... attacks. I don't know if anyone of you is familiar with DDoS attacks and their consequences. I don't wanna go into detail, but roughly spoken, some guy gets control over hundreds of computers and commands them to send useless bits of information to one single server at one specific moment. This either causes the addressed server to crash, as he has to process all this useless information, or the inbound connection to this server gets jammed, so no other valid information can come through.
Well, I am no technician, so actually I don't care about possible defense mechanisms as long as they come in quick.

The problem I am having is: What is the suitable amount of information to give out to your community. They are very well aware that we have a problem with those kind of attacks and understandably they request answers from us on how long this situation will last and how long it will take us to put sufficient countermeasures in place.
I would love to tell them everything about the situation, about purchases of new hardware, about sophisticated software solutions we've developed, you name it. BUT, isn't that already motivation enough for the attacker? If he sees us running about like headless chickens, couldn't that cause him to try to deal the final blow?
On the other hand, if we don't inform the community sufficiently, there will not be any community left to protect, as they will all - at least a significant amount - leave us for another online game.

I've talked to one of our customers today. He was really upset and disappointed by our performance. I've written him a long and extensive email, trying to explain the current situation and the limitations we are bound to. Interesting enough, he replied shortly after and was totally at ease and calm. So this is telling me, talk to the people and they will understand and sometimes even support you in your battle.
Once again, how to solve this dilemma? I am faced with a Hobson's choice. Informing the community to keep them happy always comes along with informing the attackers about our current state. Damnit!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What the ...

... hell? In my last post I tried to explain what I think about successful community management. To go out in public and hang around the (virtual) places, where your customers hang out as well. Today I've received an email from one of our customers: "What the .... What the hell are you doing and what is your bloody job you get paid for? Hanging around boards and blogs? You know, I pay you for this, I pay for you. Now move your ass and do what yo get paid for and stop loitering around the internet."
Now, I am seriously thinking about what it might be, I get paid for.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to ....

... make the community like us? Let's face it. We are a company. We have solid financial interests. If we abandoned this point of view, we would be dead within 2 weeks and subsequently not be able to provide our service called Tibia. It doesn't matter, that we are the developer of a game that brings joy and fun to hundreds of thousands of people. Tibia is cool, but the company sux. I guess, that's the fate of all big companies. In the eyes of our customers, we are just greedy and incompetent. I could live with that, if it was true. I mean if it was true, why should we try to pretend something else. The problem is, it is not true. Unfortunately, our customers don't believe us. And even more unfortunate is the fact, that it doesn't matter if they are correct or not. Customers don't see things wrong, they just see.
And to be quite honest, I can understand them. As soon as you get the impression that a corporation tends to become too big, you begin to doubt their capability to understand the needs of their customers.
So, what can we do? Show them the faces behind the company! Or to cite a famous president: "Tear this wall down". Pinch holes into the barrier that separates the yourself from the customer. Let them peek through and get a glance of the people behind the companies name. We are not CipSoft, we are Andy, Stefan, Florian, Nicole, etc. Get personal. A person is something, people can grab and understand and most important: Believe. So, go out in public and show your faces, post in customer forums, blogs etc. And don't be afraid to tell the truth. Customers are very quick in realizing that you are bullshitting them.
Drop your pants!

Monday, January 7, 2008

128 !!!!

That's the number that is written in brackets and bold next to the word "Inbox". I just love coming back from x-mas holidays. According to a Mr. Martins Johnson, I've won $500.000 and according to a Mr. BiGgErThAnEvEr, I should spend them on "MiracleGrowth".
After reading those two emails, I decided to calculate whether I could afford to buy all those pills, drugs, mobile phones, watches, etc with all the money I have won, can win, will win or should win.
I could not. Unfortunately, I am 1.5 million Indonesian Rupiahs short. What a shame. I was really looking forward to my 167 original swiss army knifes.