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Apr 06 2010 -
Chill And Grill
ne of the main aspects of Tibia's community management is improving the communication between players and CipSoft. One of the main communication channels for feedback is the discussion board. There, you can comment on recent news articles or take part in discussions about different topics. This board also gives you the chance to get in direct contact with us, the community managers. We try to explain decisions, clear up misunderstandings, provide additional information, and often answer questions concerning topics that are being discussed.

Sometimes, however, Tibia's developers join a discussion for a short time to directly answer a question or add a comment on a certain issue. These have been very rare cases, though, since the main communication takes place between the players and the community managers. We are the direct link between CipSoft and you, the community. Nevertheless, players enjoy these special moments, especially when they get one of their questions directly answered by a developer. So we thought about feasible ways to provide more of these possibilities to get in contact with other CipSoft teams.

The idea of special occasions on which players can ask questions to other CipSoft departments was bouncing around in our heads for quite some time. Instead of just presenting a final result, we want to provide you a little insight into how this vague idea evolved into the concept we want to present you in this article.

It was quite clear from the beginning that such a question and answer session should have the style of an interview: replying to a question should not take longer than a few minutes and the answer itself should not be an in-depth analysis but rather a short summary and overview given by the answering person. This was a necessary precondition in order to make the whole idea feasible in terms of time and resources.

Certainly, there are lots of burning questions players would like to ask a certain CipSoft member. So at first, we thought about inviting all players to submit questions via a feedback form, selecting a few submissions, maybe between three and five per week, and passing them on to the product managers who then decide which CipSoft member should answer which question. To see how this would work, we made a first internal test run in which we community managers selected five frequently asked questions and handed them over to the product managers who answered them by briefly outlining the main points.

We were quite satisfied with the test run but still had our doubts because we did not like the fact of filtering questions and selecting only a few of them. The main goal of the whole idea was to bring the community and the people inside CipSoft a little bit closer together. However, we felt that selecting a few questions only would work against that goal. Also, questions would certainly deal with all kinds of topics so it would be difficult to pre-estimate which CipSoft member should better schedule some time to answer. Keeping all these things in mind, we came up with a new approach: let the community submit questions within a certain time frame but in return try to reply to every single question. We were aware that this approach would certainly require more time than just answering a few selected questions but if focused on a certain team, it would be possible to reserve some of their available time in advance so they can prepare for the question and answer session. Still, it is difficult to estimate the amount of questions that might be asked by the community. Also, the time to answer questions has to be kept to a reasonable level. 500 questions, for example, would go way beyond the scope of the session. So the overall amount of questions that get answered has to be limited to a certain number.

We started to work out a more detailed concept and in order to see if players enjoy this opportunity and if everything works the way we hope it will, we want to start a public test run within the next weeks. So here is our plan:

  • A thread in which you can submit questions will be opened on the discussion board within the next weeks. We can already reveal that Tibia's product management will answer your questions in the first session. The exact date of the thread start will be announced in due time together with some further instructions. Meanwhile, you can already prepare some questions you want to ask the product managers.

  • The thread will stay open for an amount of time which has yet to be determined. Out of all relevant questions that will be submitted during that time, 50 will be chosen randomly and get answered by the product managers in the next featured article. We decided to limit the questions in the public test run to 50 in order to see how long it will take to answer this amount.

  • There are a few general guidelines concerning questions you should keep in mind since some type of questions may be omitted due to one of the following reasons:
    • questions dealing with topics that are confidential (e.g. How does the automatic detection work? How many quests are still unsolved?)
    • questions that are probably better answered by another CipSoft team (e.g. a question about quest design can best be answered by the content team)
    • questions that are similar to a question that has already been answered
    • questions that are inappropriate (e.g. offensive or too personal)
    So what kind of answers can you expect? That depends a lot on the quality of the questions you ask. A general and vague question about a huge topic, for example, will most likely result in a general answer as well since an in-depth analysis dealing with all aspects of the topic would go beyond the scope of the event. A clear and specific question is more likely to get a specific answer.

    The name we came up with for this question and answer event is "Chill and Grill". Chill in the sense of being relaxed, taking it easy and having a good time. Yet, the featured team will probably be questioned closely and some tricky questions might make them feel as if being grilled. But maybe you have a better idea for a name that really rocks? Or do you have other suggestions you would like to share with us concerning the whole idea? Do not hesitate and let us know about it in the feedback thread. We are looking forward to your comments.

    Get your questions ready!
    Your Community Managers


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