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Interview With GM-Judigator

Mkiller:
What's your job In Cipsoft? And how your work day looks like?

Judigator:

Well, you might know me from my rare appearances on the discussion board, but actually, my job is called "senior game content designer".

How a working day looks like? Every morning I'm having a quick chat with Balinor, the TibiaME product manager, about what I worked on the day before and what I will work on this day. Often we talk about recent events and the players’ feedback on the discussion boards. After that I say hello to my colleagues. We are four game content designers here, plus our team leader, Chayenne.


My actual job is divided in three parts:


1.) Writing design documents for the upcoming seasons/updates, which include how the areas will look like, what history the areas will have, what graphics we will need from the graphics department, how the stories will be laid out, how the main characters will feel like, how the riddles will be, what changes will be made to the old areas and so on. At this point, I have frequent meetings with my team leader and the graphics department. Often, Jan or Hannes, our graphic artists, draw concept art, either for the environment or for the monsters, which helps us getting into the "feeling" of an update. This happens about half a year before the update/season is released.


2.) After that I usually start editing the map with the new graphics that Jan and Hannes have so wonderfully drawn, and try to put them together in a meaningful way which takes a lot of time. TibiaME is designed in a way that every single screen should look different and interesting, which is harder to accomplish than it sounds, especially with such a HUGE map.


3.) The third part is scripting the NPCs and the riddles. The NPCs are written in our own programming language and the riddles are based on a system called "move-use".


Then it’s bugfixing time together with the testing department, and after that the whole process starts again for the next update. :-)



Mkiller:
From when and you became a cipsoft's member?

Judigator:
I started working for Cipsoft in February 2005 as a member of our customer support department, but later moved on to my dream job as a game content designer. I applied for a job here as soon as I heard there is a MMORPG company in my home town. I hadn't known that, although CipSoft was just located 100 meters from my apartment. :-)


Mkiller:
How do you like your job in CipSoft?

Judigator:
I love my job. Hey, I'm a game designer, 2nd best job after rock star! :-)


Mkiller:
Who is your best friend in CipSoft?

Judigator:
We are all friends here in CipSoft and frequently get together a lot in our spare time.


Mkiller:
Who is the big boss in CipSoft? And what means of "CipSoft"?

Judigator:
We have four "big bosses": Guido, Uli, Stephan and Steve. They have known each other for many years and
have founded CipSoft together. Uli, by the way, is the one who is in charge of TibiaME.

The meaning of CipSoft... well, the original Tibia started out as a student project at the University of Regensburg. There had been computer rooms which were called CIP-Pools. So the four decided to call their company CIP-Soft ("software from the CIP-Pools"), or CipSoft.



Mkiller:
How TibiaME Server works? And how the updates done? And how long the update can take from time?

Judigator:
Hehe... I can’t tell you how the server works as it is 10 years of expertise and programming that made the server (not my expertise, though).
But an update or season takes exactly a quarter of the year for the content team, and that’s why there are four updates per year – if you count a season as an update like we do. :-)


Mkiller:
How CipSoft made TibiaME? and what was the first idea to make TibiaME online role-playing game for mobiles? And can you give me very old screenshots from TibiME (Screenshot from the first versions) ?

Judigator:
Well, as we have created one of the oldest and most successful MMORPGS in Europe called Tibia, Steve, one of the CipSoft founders, came up with the idea to port Tibia to a mobile device. That was a groundbreaking idea at that time. The name "Tibia" is purely made-up, and it was only much later when we found out that "tibia" is the latin word for "shinbone". 

The universes of Tibia and TibiaME do have a historical connection which we haven’t really emphasised much upon, yet. Maybe I’ll make an update about that connection one day. :-)


,


Mkiller:
What plans in 2010 and when will the updates at all over the year? And tell me more about the High-Res Client?

Judigator:
Well, that is a very broad question. There will be another spring update, season 7, and a fall update and season 8. I’ll have to rework big parts of the map for the coming HiRes-Client, as well. We also have another revolution for TibiaME in the pipeline, but it's still too early to talk about it. That thing will cost another big portion of my time. :-)

Over the last few years, the updates and seasons have almost always been at the same dates, so I’d expect the next updates to be around that time again – if all goes well. The HiRes-Client is such a big project, so we might have small delays here. Please understand that I cannot go into detail regarding the HiRes-Client and the coming updates right now. This information is still top secret.



Mkiller:
How Gamemasters get the ideas about Monsters, Islands and items names?

Judigator:
Monster names and islands are generally invented by the whole team, but a lot of help and ideas come from my wonderful team leader, Chayenne. She has designed Solahmar before I took the job, and today she’s in charge of the creative team including content designers and graphic artists.

As soon as we have found a nice theme, I start sampling material like stories and reference pictures. Very often, the stories or characters in the game are influenced by things that surround me at that time, like TV series, books or other activities. You can find tons of references to Battlestar Galactica, Lost, 24, just to mention a few. :-)

Oh, and I have started practising Karate again after some years, so that’s where the quests, names and items of Yabutu come from. Zenipo and Chotoku, for example, are slightly altered names of two grandmasters of Karate. Practising Kata like at NPC Caknoris is very common in Karate, as well. And I guess you know who Caknoris is. :-)

Banuna, on the other hand, was based on a theme that refers to Indiana Jones and Conan. The Muscolants, for example, were called "Conans" internally, but we changed the name so we won’t get any copyright trouble.

Very often, we also use player proposals and integrate them into the game. A good example is the Jumbo Slayer. All players have seen its graphics even before the item was in the game. The community called it Jumbo Slayer, so we named it Jumbo Slayer. Also, the community discussed about its stats, so we made the stats accordingly. :-)

The weapon and monster balancing, and the database behind it, is indeed extremely complicated. We have just finished our work on our brand new "fight simulator" which allows us to extract all kinds of data from repeated simulated fights. It’s like "let a wizard with optimized equipment with level 45 fight 5000 times with a yeti and show how he did, how much XP he gets in an hour etc." It’s a really powerful tool.

We even use Tools that show how many monsters are killed and where. That way we can see which hunting grounds are popular and which are not. Look at this example:

 
The funny thing is, even if we have balanced something, it sometimes takes ages for the players to adapt. There are a lot of better hunting grounds than Yetis and Eyes, but for some reason most of you seem stuck to it.  :-)


Mkiller:
Do you like my site?

Judigator:
Yes, your site is really cool! :-)


Mkiller:
Thanks a lot GM Judigator for your time :-)


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