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Interview with Rejana



Tibia-Stats:Hello Rejana, thank you very much for taking the time to take this interview. We have been looking forward to it for quite a while and we are very happy to get to finally make it happen.

Rejana: The pleasure is all mine! I'm curious what questions you are going to ask, and I hope that I'll be able to provide satisfying answers for all of them :o)

Tibiora's Box won't open



Tibia-Stats: First things first, we would like to get to know more about you for those who might not be aware of who you are. What did you do to make it to Cipsoft and what have you done whilst being apart of the company?

Rejana: I started to work for CipSoft almost 10 years ago already. I studied information science here in Regensburg and when I was looking for a job after university, CipSoft was looking for employees. I applied, got the job, and have been here ever since. I started out in the customer support team, became Master Tutor, and later on Head GM. And when the community management department opened up in 2008, I applied, since it sounded like something I'd enjoy. Ever since then, I've been working as a community manager, together with Mirade, and for more than 2 years already also with Tjured.



Tibia-Stats: What was the transition like going from working with a small group of volunteers and being in charge of rule violations, to finding yourself working with a large portion of the community and interacting with them on the forums each day? Not only that, but presenting feedback to the developers and writing articles. Was it an easy change to make or did it take you a while to adjust?

Rejana: The transition wasn't hard for me. Mirade and I were a pretty good match. She really likes being on the forums and being involved in discussions. I don't really like being out in the spot light that much. So - we found our areas to focus on easily. She has always been more present on the forums than me, and I took over the fansite programme from Andasstra, as well as the feedback forms and polls. And we shared the remaining tasks. Collecting feedback, analysing it and preparing it into a presentable form was easy to get used to as well. It's not like we had never been involved in such feedback processes before. Before the community management department was created, collecting feedback was part of the job in the customer support team. Not with the same focus as we have it today, but it was done. And writing articles is actually fun. We CMs take turns writing them, so this task never really becomes part of the daily routine.



Tibia-Stats: The following question comes from Kseni of Chimera who won our ?Ask a CM a Question? competition. You have been involved with both rule enforcement and community duties. Do you ever miss the opportunity to assist with the most pressuring issue for Tibians ? cheating, or do you feel more comfortable with your new role as a community manager??

Rejana: I personally am way more comfortable with the role of a community manager. Being in charge of rule violations often is pretty frustrating. If you have proof for a rule violation, it's not difficult to decide and dish out a banishment. But: if you just have a gut feeling that somebody is guilty, but there is no reliable proof - that then is difficult to handle, especially with such severe topics like cheating. If I'd be a coder, I'd feel tempted to join the fight between bot developers and game developers, of course on the good side! Since I'm not though, I will leave this to the pros, and will just help to make sure that useful information for this fight gets to the right places, if it comes up.



Tibia-Stats: 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, if not thousands of players depending on the topic. PvP 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?

Rejana: We CMs get feedback through many different channels, and on many different topics. For the PvP you mentioned, we had a focus group in which Craban actually discussed himself with many players. We CMs were not that much involved in this focus group and the discussions there. We just had an eye on the discussion, but the feedback got directly from the focus group members to Craban. We CMs did of course - and still do - listen in on our regular channels. Mirade and Tjured usually collect the feedback from the official Tibia forums, I collect it from the fansites and the feedback forms. We then exchange what we have learned about the different topics from the community, we talk about which new topics came up, which topics were most dominant, which topics came up again after they had been gone for a while, and which topics have completely disappeared from discussions. We identify what needs to be forwarded to whom internally, and each of us summarises the feedback he / she collected. We have "feedback reports" then for each week. These reports are then forwarded. Apart from these reports, we have daily meetings with the product management for an exchange of pressing matters, or to get answers for questions, information for news, etc. We also have a constant exchange with the content team, for example. And in addition to all this, there are sometimes internal meetings for dedicated topics. We CMs usually get a chance there to present the dominant opinion of the community, if there is one. We can't make any decisions, but we always make sure that the community voice is heard by the decision-makers.



Tibia-Stats: How did you end up with your current role as the head of fansite relations?

RejanaIn the beginning of the community management department, we were three people. Mirade, Andasstra and myself. Andasstra had been responsible for the fansites already during her time in the customer support team. Then one day Andasstra decided to leave CipSoft, and I took over, since I like working with a team.



Tibia-Stats: What sort of things do you do as part of this role?

Rejana: The fansite admins have a private board on which I can inform them of different matters, or they can post if they have questions, or comments. So - I look after this forum. I also answer emails. I simply try to be a good adviser for admins when they come across difficulties on their sites. I have a look at events on fansites and talk to admins about prizes that they can offer. I'm also the one to send out these prizes then to the winners. Often we CMs are also part of the judging when it comes to find contest winners. When it's shortly before a test server, I update test server helper lists, etc - Well, to summarize this a bit since there are really many different small tasks involved: I try to support the fansite admins in the programme the best way possible. In addition to that, I'm also the person to talk to if you want to make a fansite yourself. I handle fansite applications, and answer questions of possible future fansite admins. I also listen to and answer complaints from players that have to do with fansites. I also check the fansites in the programme regularly, and - as mentioned before collect feedback there. I also write newstickers for fansite matters, etc...



Tibia-Stats: The following question was picked out personally by me from our competition and it was posted by Razzdar. How much of a role do you think fansites have played in Tibia's success?

Rejana: In my opinion, fansites have played a huge role in Tibia's success. As far as I know, fansites have always been around, right from the very beginning. And if I'm informed correctly, the very first Tibia forum even was on a fansite, and not on the official Tibia website. Fansite admins are actually fascinating people. Since they are fans, they have a great passion for Tibia, which is very cool. Some admins even learn HTML and CSS and programming just because they would like to make a fansite for their favorite game, and thus offer something for others that they miss. Without fansites, all information about Tibia would most likely be available in English only. Who knows if Tibia would have grown as much if there hadn't been people who spread the word, and who made sure that the word could be understood! And without fansites like the Tibia Wikis, for example, on which players share what they have found out about the game, a lot less information would be available. Also statistic sites process information they collect in such a way that the information is understandable and interesting. Fansites also entertain people, they offer a platform for an exchange among players, they offer features that players wish for, etc. I really doubt that CipSoft could have managed to produce and to spread as much information as fast as it happened with the help of fansites. Tibia has received lots of help from the community right from the start to get it on the right track and to give it a jump start. Not only fansites played a role, there were also graphic artists who offered their talents, there were people who wrote stories, and people who passionately played the game and provided feedback and ideas to develop it further. All these factors played and play a huge rule in Tibia's success, in my opinion.



Tibia-Stats: Tibia is a game that is played by players literally across the entire planet and dedicated players who care for the game have created fansites in their native languages. It is awesome to see how much players care for the game, but how do you analyse these websites that are not in a language that you are able to understand?

Rejana: It may sound funny, but google translate is a great help! I do speak Spanish a little bit that comes in handy as well, however, it's far from being good enough to understand entire complex conversations.



Tibia-Stats: There are lots of fansites that are very popular but are not officially supported. One example is the old World of Tibia website (which is no longer available) which had a very large forum community. Another such website is Tibiacast which allows players to watch other players in real time. There are minimum standards expected for fansites to be supported which such websites do not match, yet their popularity is as high as any of the supported or promoted fansites. Is it difficult to not be able to include these fansites in the fansite program or do you feel it is justified to not include them based on the criteria that they do not match?

Rejana: Not all fansites want to be in the fansite programme. Admins do have to apply to become a part of the programme. Also, some fansite admins are connected to activities that we do not like. So - we can always end a cooperation, or deny a cooperation right from the beginning. We reserve us this right and yes, I think this is indeed justified. With TibiaCast it's like this: they offer a service that we do not really approve of from a technical point of view. Since it's such a popular service community though, we see that it is important for the players. They offer a service that people want, so it's existence is clearly justified and we won't punish anyone for using it. However, we have chosen not to support it actively. For the WoT, if I remember correctly, they were in the fansite programme many years ago, and I think they were even the fansite that hosted the first forum for Tibia I mentioned earlier...



Tibia-Stats: How many unsupported fansites are currently being monitored? Are many fansites successful at joining the fansite programme?

Rejana: At the moment there are 26 fansites on the monitored list. Actually, only a very small portion really joins the fansite programme after a while. Most sites are removed from the monitored list at one point, since they are don't get updated anymore for a long time, or they disappear completely from the internet.



Tibia-Stats: There is a guideline to fansites that may be found on Tibia.com but if you could give your own suggestions for what you look for in a good fansite, what would they be?

Rejana: From an optical side, I look if the site is clearly structured and that I can find my way around the site easily, without getting confused. The site also has to have a somewhat professional appearance. Of course they do not have to be perfect, but, for example, all subpages of a website need to build unit. People need to be able to recognize on each sub-site that they are still on the same website. From a content side, I need to find something interesting on it. It doesn't have to be unique, but I need to see that there is something on the site that is interesting for at least some players, and that is not offered by us already. To give you an example: A site in English that only copies our news section won't ever make it into the programme, regardless of what design they have. A site in a different language that only translates our news section might already have a much higher chance. There needs to be something on the site that has the potential to convince people to stop by more often. The admin needs to have an idea of what he would like to offer. If you look at TibiaLottery, for example, they don't post any news, they don't write much on their site, but they offer a function we don't. Or - if you look at Tibia-Stats: the site has a clear focus that we don't cover. I'm a big fan of the research articles, for example. That is unique, cool and awesome! And such research articles need a platform on which they can be presented well, because such articles are of great value and interest of players. Hmm... I hope that gives you an idea. It's difficult to pinpoint it to a clear list of facts. Each fansite is different and can have its own charm for its very own reasons...



Tibia-Stats: Time to talk about the game now. How did you discover Tibia and what were your first impressions from playing?

Rejana: When I found the job announcement of CipSoft, I checked what they did, found the game, made an account and character, tried to log in - and patiently waited in the login queue... When I finally managed to log in, I was very much reminded of games I had played on the Nintendo, so I fell in love with it. I enjoyed walking around Rookgaard, killing rats and rabbits and chuckled about funny little things, like for example NPC names that sound like a grocery store in Germany, like Al Dee, and Norma. Also Obi and Lee'Delle are references to German stores.



Tibia-Stats: What vocation is your highest leveled character?

Rejana: He's a druid... he's in a big depression at the moment though. That usually happens to all my chars when they die without blessings...^^ - currently I'm more active on my knight.



Tibia-Stats: What sort of activities do you do when you play?

Rejana: I'm a really slow player, not really into competing with others. So I take my time and usually just walk hunting routes I like, that's pretty relaxing... Sometimes I'm bold though and dare to leave my routine to get to another place, or to include something in my hunting route that I usually leave out... I don't like taking on risks in Tibia, I really hate dying!



Tibia-Stats: Tibia has evolved quite a lot over the years. We have seen the revamp of the magical system in 2005 and the revamp of the melee system in 2007. PvP has changed drastically. We received much sought after market and mounts. Cooldowns for spells were implemented. Daily quests were added. The list goes on and on. Every feature has lovers and haters. What do you think is the biggest change or which change have you personally enjoyed the most?

Rejana: Hmm... ok - the change I enjoyed the most would probably be the time when world quests and world events were introduced... The biggest change - that's difficult to say. I think Tibia became a lot more complex over time, and several changes played into that. It started with very little things, for example the level restrictions on equip, the elemental system, resistances, etc and also the PvP. When I first got to know Tibia, it was more straight forward in my eyes. I'll try to explain this a bit better... Now there are often special conditions that have to be met before you can do something. For me, this development does have its charm, it offers a lot more possibilities, makes things fairer and also more balanced, but personally, for my own game play as a casual player, I liked it better when it was more straight forward. Now you simply need to have a lot more in mind when playing, you need more planning, and you need to consider more factors when you go on a hunt. Hmm... I think I'd call that "the change towards more complexity", which clearly has pros and cons.



Tibia-Stats: There are mixed emotions with the evolution of Tibia, 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. The lead developer for World of Warcraft stated that 95% of the feedback he receives is negative, yet they have over 7 million players. How does the negative feedback impact yourself and your colleagues?

Rejana: Hmm... of course negative feedback doesn't make you feel good. We are a strong team though and we talk about it. Also often we understand the negativity in the feedback very well and we share some of the frustration, too. Some things simply can't be addressed as we would like it, and we CMs often have to state publicly that we heard the feedback and forwarded it. Every time we say that though it sounds as empty words to many people and they are then of course not holding back on their thoughts, either. The list of things to be addressed is really huge. Prioritizing all these tasks is the decision of the product management though that receives the feedback we forwarded. I'm pretty certain though that there really is a big part of Tibia players who aren't as frustrated as you could think everybody is, when you read the forums. Most people probably don't really bother to visit the forums very often. We do get positive feedback as well, and I wouldn't estimate 95% for negative feedback. It's true though that people who are not satisfied with something have a stronger urge to state this than people who are satisfied. That is very normal, and it's good that people speak up and give constructive feedback when they don't like something. Negative feedback also has a positive side, by the way: as long as there are people who complain about something, you know that there are still people who care.



Tibia-Stats: Every now and then there are some rough moments for Tibia. This summer was dominated by DDOS attacks. World events have not always gone to plan (most recently Lightbearer has been affected). What do situations like this cause to the atmosphere in the office? It can't be fun for yourself, Mirade and Tjured to read through the forums and emails during these bad times. Are stress levels increased and tensions high, or do you all manage to maintain a normal atmosphere?

Rejana: Yes, you can probably always tell by the looks on our faces whether things are currently going smoothly or if something went wrong. Stress levels are definitely increased, we still try to maintain a calm atmosphere at least, though. Panicking doesn't help and won't solve anything. In such times it's really important to stay calm and to consider carefully what you are doing. You need to keep a cool head to analyse what the best solutions are. No need to deny this, though. When you get to the office in the mornings, and the first thing you hear is that there's a bug in the Lightbearer Event (again...^^) - all you actually wanna do is turn around and go back home... But then in the course of the day, it gets addressed, fixed and afterwards it wasn't the end of the world after all... I mean - we are all human, and making mistakes is part of human nature. Nobody is perfect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everybody can have a bad day some times... Also, I don't want to make excuses for us, but it's often not as easy to implement something new in Tibia, as some players may think. The code of Tibia is very old, and it has grown a lot over the years. If you introduce a new feature nowadays, no matter what you do - it could impact another feature or function which got introduced 10 years ago and is hardly related to the new feature. So - some errors can indeed slip through.



Tibia-Stats: As a long time serving member of Cipsoft, are you aware of any Tibian secrets that have not yet been discovered by players?

Rejana: There are many secrets, and many Tibia players. I'm sorry, but it is impossible for me to know what each and every single Tibia player has discovered in Tibia, yet...



Tibia-Stats: If you had a chance to change something in Tibia for yourself, what would it be?

Rejana: A change, just for myself? I'd really appreciate it if Yasir would pay me a visit from time to time...



Tibia-Stats: Final question. You have proven yourself to be very adaptable when changing roles within Cipsoft. If a new position which had not been done before were created and you were asked to take that role (the fansite position would be filled), what would your response be?

Rejana: That does depend on the position offered and the money paid :p I like being a CM, I like the team, the job, and I don't see a need to change anything about that at the moment. If the position would interest me though and would sound like something I'd enjoy even more, I don't think that I'd turn it down if I felt capable of doing the job...

Tibiora's Box won't open



Tibia-Stats: Thank you very much for your time and your answers Rejana. 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?

Rejana: Hmm - of course I have a message: never forget to have fun and don't take life to seriously... ;o) I enjoyed the interview a lot! Thank you for being interested and thanks for reading

 
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