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Jun 02 2008 -
Content Team - The Creative Department
he content team currently consists of 7 people, including our graphic artists. In the first years of Tibia, a large part of the content was designed by Tibia players. One of these players was Knightmare, who was hired by CipSoft as a regular employee in 2003. In 2004, Chayenne, who eventually rose to be the leader of the team, joined in. For a long time, the two of them were the only ones to plan and build new areas, quests etc. for Tibia and TibiaME, although they were sometimes assisted by members of the support team. Needless to say, further manpower was needed. Consequently, Denson Larika joined the team in 2006. Finally, in spring 2007 Judigator switched from the support to the content team and became the main designer to create content for TibiaME. Our first graphic artist Jan started working at CipSoft in 2004. In the early days, most of the graphics were designed by a few talented people from the community, some of whom, for example Izuael, Oin and Lord Ariakas, have still contributed to more recent updates, working together with Jan as freelancers. Once we had made up our minds to start a new project, we found that we needed a 3D graphic specialist. As a result, Richard joined the team in 2007. Jenny, our newest graphic artist, started working at CipSoft as recently as last month.

Tibia

Updates
The content team is involved in many different projects. Their most important tasks, however, are the planning, preparation and realisation of two major game updates a year. They usually start out by collecting all kinds of ideas. However, Chayenne, Knightmare and Denson Larika are not the only ones to rack their brains. In fact, all CipSoft members are invited to share their ideas. Of course, the proposal board is also checked for interesting ideas. Once the brainstorming stage is complete, the content team discusses with Guido and Craban, who are Tibia's product managers, which ideas should be realised in the new update. Will there be a new area? Which features should be implemented? Many difficult questions such as these have to be answered. The next step is the creation of a concept in which the new features are listed in detail, quests and new NPCs are characterised, and, if necessary, the new area is described. Once the concept has been completed, the ideas are implemented in the Tibia client. New NPCs are placed on the map, areas are newly built or reworked, new features are added, and quests are prepared. Once all planned features have been added to the client, everything needs to be tested. Only if all noticeable errors have been fixed, the update will be launched. If you would like to know more about how updates are made, take a look at the featured article concerning this topic.

Other Tasks
The making of updates is not the only task of the content team. They are also responsible for fixing ingame errors, such as map bugs or typos in NPC texts and books. Whenever a player reports a content problem, the support team asks the content team for advice in order to work out if there is a bug. Conversely, the support team gives the content important feedback from the community, for example monster spawns that are often misused for luring or areas that can be easily blocked. The content team uses this information to redesign such problematic map areas.
Throughout the whole year, several events take place in Tibia, such as the goblin raids at Christmas, coloured eggs at Easter, the Halloween Hare or the flower month in June. All of these festivities have to be thought out, planned, designed and prepared by the content team. Also, whenever there is some discussion concerning the gameplay of Tibia or TibiaME, at least one member of the content team is always taking part. After all, no one knows the details of the game as well as those who have created it, so the members of the content team are ideal candidates to contribute essential ideas to gameplay topics.

In addition to the tasks that have already been mentioned, the content team also regularly analyses selected game features to see if they work well. This spring and summer, for example, hunting grounds have been analysed. Several minor adjustments have already been made with a small patch that was released in April, and more will follow with the summer update.

The picture shows the Ice Islands on Secura. The red parts indicate the spots where most creatures have been killed. As can be seen, Okolnir and the barbarian camps are very popular hunting grounds, while the frost giants on Tyrsung are visited less often. Needless to say, however, maps like these can only give rough ideas of how popular hunting grounds really are. For this reason, they cannot form the only basis for this kind of analysis. As a result, gained experience and loot were also recorded from the server data. Most importantly, players have been interviewed about their opinion on spawn rates, loot, monster behaviour and experience. All these results have been compared and analysed, and finally it was decided which measures were to be taken to make hunting grounds more balanced. To give but one example, the analysis showed that the lower floors of Banuta were rather unpopular. The whole area there was designed as one huge empty space which allowed no control over larger groups of monsters. As a result, the summer update will bring the addition of certain architectural elements that can be used to make sure players cannot be attacked by 8 monsters at once. The measures devised by the content will surely help to make hunting places more attractive.

TibiaME

Before Judigator joined the content team, Chayenne created most of the content for this popular mobile game on her own. Even today she supports Judigator in his work by supplying ideas for quests or by giving advice on how to design certain elements of the game. However, by now the lion's share of the work of planning and realising of TibiaME updates lies with Judigator.
TibiaME features 4 updates every year, 2 major ones as well as 2 minor ones, which are commonly known as episodes. These episodes actually consist of 6 patches each which are connected, even though each of them forms a little story in its own right. As you can imagine, Judigator is busy all year round with planning and implementing updates for TibiaME.

Making updates for TibiaME works in quite a similar way as making updates for Tibia. It all starts with a meeting of Durin and Balinor, who form TibiaME's product management, Judigator, a programmer, as well as a member of customer support, and, of course, Chayenne. Together, they search for ideas and decide which features are to be implemented. Once they are agreed, a concept for the update is written. This concept includes background stories, detailed descriptions of quests and features and, if necessary, drawings and descriptions for a new area. First sketches of the new monsters or area help to define the atmosphere and the style for a new update.
Finally, the ideas are implemented. If there is a new area, the general landscape is the first part to be created. Forests, mountains, beaches, snowy hills or flowery meadows are placed on the map. After that, monsters are added and their loot and their strength are defined. After that, texts for NPCs are written and all non-player characters are moved to their new homes in TibiaME. Finally, game functionalities are added, for example floor tiles which open doors when they are stepped on. This is the most difficult and lengthy part, as many things have to be kept in mind. To name but a few, such features must function correctly and they must not be abusable in any way. Once everything has been implemented, the whole update is tested and finally launched.

Apart from updates, Judigator also fixes errors in the game or evaluates player feedback. He is also a very active reader of the TibiaME forums. This way he does not only get great ideas for new content, but he also knows where the shoe pinches and which things need improvement.

Graphics

Needless to say, numerous graphics are needed every year for Tibia and TibiaME. There are many new monsters, plenty of new items and countless other graphical elements that are added ingame with every update. The creation of these graphics forms the bulk of our graphic artist Jan's workload. The way a Tibia monster is created follows a clear schedule. First the front and back sides of a motionless monster are created, then views on the monster from both sides. Finally, the monster's animations are devised. For most Tibia monsters, animations consist of 2 stages.

The first thing, however, that needs to be taken care of when a new update is created are graphics of the environment, particularly if a new area is planned. This is to make sure that map designers can start early with their work on the areas. Sometimes such graphics are included right away as sprites in bigger mock-up scenes, but more often they are complemented by concept art, which helps to give a better idea of the look and feel of the new area. Concept art is either drawn with a pencil or, like all other graphics, directly in the graphics editor using a graphics tablet. The ideas for objects or monsters are mainly supplied by the content designers. They often give very detailed descriptions, which already create a very vivid picture of the object that is to be designed. Sometimes, however, all the artist gets is the name of an object, and its story develops from the drawing itself. As 3D graphic artists, Richard and Jenny are mainly busy with our new project, but from time to time, they also assist Jan in creating items for the game or in other projects.

Even though game graphics definitely form the graphic artists' main work load, they receive requests from nearly all departments at CipSoft. Thus, all graphic elements on the website have been created by them; Jan designed the new start page, and, of course, the website's background picture. Furthermore, the tasks of designing flyers, posters, or creating designs for the products at Tibia's marketplace and other promotion articles are also carried out by our graphic artists, as are the pictures for news or featured articles. To illustrate their different artistic styles, I have asked all three of them for a self-portrait for this article. The fabulous results can be seen above.

Working as a game designer or graphic artist is surely a job that many Tibia players dream about. The work in the content team requires much creativity, but also the ability to keep an eye on the whole concept of the game. To name but a few, experience points, strength and loot of new monsters must fit into the existing bestiary; weapons and equipment must be well balanced to make sure they do not give players unfair advantages or that they are not completely useless, and new graphics must be created in the same style as previous ones. Whenever a new update is launched, the content team has contributed countless well-conceived ideas, much artistic talent and a huge share of creativity. The people working in the content team surely enjoy their jobs, but working in the content team is much more difficult and demanding as one would expect, as it requires patience, endurance, and, above all, a deeply rooted love for the games they work on.

Enjoy the work of our game designers and graphic artists!
Your CipSoft Team


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