50 Answers from the Product ManagersWritten by CipSoft on Thursday 06 May 2010
From April 20 to 21, the community took the chance to ask their most burning questions directly to the product managers of Tibia. The questions touched upon various topics, like PvP, vocation balancing, anti-cheating measures, rule enforcement, technical issues and many more. The most frequently asked questions have been answered, each individually by one of the three product managers Guido, Craban or Skyrr.
In this month's featured article, we will reveal their answers step by step, about a dozen of them every week! Newly added questions and answers will be placed on top of the old ones in each category. A Q&A counter indicates how many of them are already published, and how many are still to come.
Q&A Counter: 13/50 published (last update: May 6)
Gameplay and Content
Q: People have been asking for quests and challenges for level 150+, even 200+ players for a long time. Do you have any plans regarding the matter?
Guido: This topic has become more important with time since more and more players have reached higher levels. Yes, we will add features and content specially designed for high level characters in the future. However, there are just rough plans so far except for the fact that we will add some challenging new areas, monsters and a few quests, raids and events in the next updates. Also, considering that the spell with the highest level requirement can already be acquired with level 70, we think about adding more spells even for high levels... yeah, right, high level spells!
Q: Will you consider changing the death penalty?
Craban: Generally yes. The important point here is to define what is meant by death penalty. The death penalty consists of several elements and has several effects. In our view, the death penalty is one of the core features that makes Tibia what it is: one of the harder games to play. We want a death to be something that matters. We want you to have feelings about a death. It is supposed to hurt you and at that moment to cause some anger. What it should not do is to cause true frustration. That is why I can generally say we do consider working on these issues. We have to evaluate which aspects of a character death hurt the most. Examples may be item loss for low levels, money loss due to blessings for high levels and of course also the reason why the death happened, including PvP, and many more aspects.
Q: Do you plan to make a 3rd add-on for the outfits we so greedy collect?
Guido: In the beginning, we planned three add-ons for outfits. But since it is really a lot of work to create base outfits and add-ons we reduced the number of add-ons to two for the first release of this feature. Since then we preferred to add several new outfits you can choose from instead of catching up with the original plan to introduce the 3rd add-on. So, currently, there are no plans for a 3rd add-on. It definitely will not be done this year.
Q: What is your view on the so called "legendary items" (golden helmet, demon legs, horned helmet, etc.)?
Skyrr: I assume you refer to all items which cannot be acquired regularly ingame, e.g. through quests. As an old player who joined CipSoft recently in 2009 I experienced the "old times" first hand. Most existing items originate from that time. As a player I always liked the fact that there are "irregular" items which are something special and that each of them has a story of its own. But now as a product manager my view changed a bit: those items do not exist on all servers, so some players will never even have a small chance to obtain one of those items – this is the part I do not like about those "legendary items".
Q: Considering the steady decline in the number of active players on many Open PvP worlds, do you believe that Open PvP is still a viable game world type as it is currently designed?
Skyrr: You are assuming that the decline in the number of online players is directly connected to Open PvP issues - however, I do not agree with this conclusion. Since the start of our "Anti-Cheating Reloaded" action the number of active botters dropped significantly (yes, I know, you still see bots in game and we will keep fighting them until our players are satisfied). But these bots which roamed the game worlds before are now missing, so a drop of players was expected. Since we noticed that less bots are used on Optional PvP game worlds it fits into the picture that the decrease is less sharp on them. Additionally, we have seasonal variations which happen every year at the same time.
Still, while the above mentioned things do not necessarily have something to do with Open PvP, we indeed think about the game design of Open PvP game worlds. That is the reason why, right now as I write these lines, we started a discussion about improvements of the war system with selected players from every interest group. Before that we had an open discussion about it on our discussion board. We want to address several matters on Open PvP game worlds. And if some people wish for PvP options that we do not want to offer on Open PvP, we will think about further measures to offer them anyway.
In any case I would like to use this opportunity to express my concern that some players wish for PvP without unjust kills, but are not willing to play on a Hardcore PvP game world which offers this.
Q: I am wondering if there are any plans to do a vocation balancing update soon?
Craban: There definitely is the plan to work on the game balance soon. A big part of that is the power balance between vocations, but it also extends to the balance of weapons and equipment, resources, loot, prices, monsters and hunting grounds and a lot more. All of these things have a direct influence on how good a vocation is in comparison to another. Vocations shall be different, but also interesting and fun to play, and in the end, all of them shall have the same chances to advance in the game. This also includes making knights more interesting to play, making sorcerers and druids more unique etc.
We are currently looking for a new game content designer whose main task will be to work on the balance on the content side. Together with that person we will get deeper into this topic later this year, but I cannot promise at what point we will have something ready to present. Also, as game balance is a very delicate thing, there will not be a sudden update that makes BAM! and everything is perfect after that. Such things take time and should be done in steps.
Rules and Anti-Cheating
Q: Knowing the impact of cheaters on everything in this game, are your future plans to eliminate all cheating?
Skyrr: This question implies that it is possible to "eliminate all cheating". In Tibia there have always been players who tried to gain unfair advantages through many means and I am sure, regardless of all measures we introduce, there will be those who will try to find new ways to achieve this. So from our point of view we do not think that we will ever be able to eliminate all cheating once and for all. For us, this is rather a constant battle in which we try to prevent as much cheating as possible. This has to be balanced with all other goals we have, for example, we put much effort in making sure that we do not punish fair players. Anti-cheating measures are an important topic for us, for which the product management team allocates a significant budget – regularly, and not only once.
Q: Are you satisfied with so many people complaining about the cheating issue and if no, how do you want to change it?
Skyrr: Of course we are not satisfied when many of our players see something as a problem. However, as often, things are not as easy as they seem at a first glance. In case of botting, for example, we can see a sharp decline in cheating, especially since we introduced the permanent final warnings. Still, that is not what matters for you, our players. You do not measure the problem in overall numbers, but by your personal experience, like going to your favourite hunting grounds and seeing or not seeing a bot there. So while we are pretty content with the impact of some of our measures, we are far from thinking that the problem is solved.
How do we want to change it? On the one hand, we continue to refine and further develop our detection methods. We also develop new concepts that allow us to solve the problems you experience ingame – like the bot reporting feature we have introduced these days. On the other hand, we hope that players will feel the effects of our measures ingame step by step. We do get positive feedback about this by players who tell us that some spawns that were bot infested prior to our relaunched measures are now bot free. While we like this, we will still put constant effort in further solutions.
Q: Why do you think that more active gamemasters cannot solve the downsides of the current rule enforcement system?
Skyrr: The gamemaster system has been introduced in the stone age of Tibia. It was a system designed for a non-commercial game, and it worked really well for a long time, thanks to the efforts of our gamemasters who devoted their free time to solve the problems of Tibia's players. But Tibia changed over the years, most notably of all it became a commercial game for which players pay and it grew heavily. We desire to offer a good service to our players at all time, and this includes offering rule enforcement in a constant quality of service and a constant availability. Of course we have analysed the possiblity of just adding more volunteer gamemasters to the rule enforcement, but we have found many points that make this not feasible for Tibia's situation. So, instead, we want to take the positive aspects of our gamemasters – their dedication, knowledge of the game and motivation to help players – and keep them in a helper system, while addressing the problematic points with a CipSoft in-house-only rule enforcement system.
Clients, Servers and other Technical Issues
Q: Have you ever considered the possibilty to open a test server for fun on a special day like Tibia's birthday using the client version 7.x?
Craban: This question has 2 parts actually, and I will reply to each seperately:
1) "Test server for fun": Well, this is really a contradiction in terms. A real "test server" has the purpose of testing. What this question shows is that there is an interest in a seperate server where no testing is done, but no game with the usual consequences is running there either. You are asking for a pure fun server in addition to the regular Tibia game worlds. If we agree to leave the "test" part out of the question, I can say that the idea is nice and we know that there is such an interest. There are absolutely no plans to do anything like that, but there is also no reason to completely rule out the possibility. Just opening a server for fun would not be much of a problem. The question here is whether there might not even be more interesting variations of this idea. However, as I said, there are no plans in this direction, so if we would ever do something like this, it will not be anytime soon.
2) "Client version 7.x": This question has been asked in many variations numerous times. Our answer is still the same: We will not do that. I'll take the opportunity to tell you a little more about the reasons:
Firstly, we constantly develop Tibia further, and of course, we do that with the aim not only to change it somehow but to actually make it better. Therefore, offering any older version means to go several steps back. These older versions include all the little problems, weaknesses and maybe even some bugs that were improved or fixed in the meantime, so honestly, if we did this, the players would very quickly see that it is not better than now.
Secondly, what most of the players that ask this actually want are old game mechanics, but with new content. This simply does not work since a lot of the new content only works with the current game mechanics. To make possible what people ask for would mean to revert to an old version but then change and develop a lot of what is already in the game again for that specific old version. Apart from the immense overhead time that this would cost, you would never get a real old server but again some weird different version, a mixture of old and new and something else.
Finally, already from those requests we can clearly see that there is not one certain version people would like to see. We would never be able to satisfy all who request this because, again, each player has a different opinion on what should be done.
Q: Do you plan to introduce a system that can prevent players from death during a DDoS attack?
Skyrr: Of course, we would like to protect players from a death that is caused solely by a DDoS attack. However, if we just introduce a feature that prevents you from dying or death losses, those who are capable of launching such attacks could abuse it, e.g. by launching a DDoS attack when they realize that they are going to die. This is a general problem with any feature for the game: we have to check not only if it will work in the intended situation, we also have to make sure it cannot be abused in other situations.
So, concerning the protection of our players from deaths by DDoS attacks we rather choose the way of working with internet providers and server providers to improve the infrastructure so that attacks have no effect. Many regular attack attempts get filtered every week so players do not even feel the effects. But of course, we aim at improving everything so much that even large scale attacks do not lead to player deaths.
Q: Tibia is a great game, many of us love it and play it on a daily basis. Yet we know it isn't perfect. What is the issue that worries the product managers the most?
Guido: I see it like you. Tibia is great and we put a lot of passion in it. Of course, there is always a lot to improve. Hot topics for us are currently the fight against botting, finding the right balance between the different PvP tastes of our players and making Tibia more accessible for new players. On a more general level the goal to reach are happy players, and on a business level it simply is to get more customers.
Q: CipSoft has frequently been heavily criticised for being isolated from their own game. Have you ever considered creating a "focus group" of active players from the various game world types to both discuss new features before they are implemented and to brainstorm new ideas for the future?
Craban: Yes, absolutely. We have already done that numerous times. On the one hand, we regularly create focus groups within CipSoft. We are a gaming company, so of course, we have lots of really dedicated gamers here, too. A large group is also active in Tibia. Others are highly experienced with a lot of other games. Depending on the topic, we try to invite all those colleagues that have some kind of helpful background fitting the topic.
On the other hand, we have often led discussions with our voluntary helper groups. You can also consider those to be focus groups since what they have in common is a certain dedication to the game as well as quite a lot experience with it.
Finally, we have just last week started a discussion with a few players that we selected due to their contribution in the feedback thread about the war system. That is probably the version of focus groups that was meant with this question, so yes, we are doing it right now.
Further questions and answers will be published around every Thursday in May.