Hello everyone! One of our prominent players had some probing questions for our admin, Storm. So without further ado, let us see what transpired from the chat. Who knows? Possibly some light can be shed into the darker world of the convoluted mind of the game admin.

Storm: Hi. Thanks for popping in to chat to me. Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you and the community, to answer your questions and try to give you some insight, where I can, about the game, and about myself.

Question 1: As players, besides playing the game, one of the few constants is complaining about the staff. We never see things the way they do, because we lack the staff’s perspective on the game. As a way to get a glimpse at how the game appears from their side, Storm has granted me this interview.

You have now been an admin longer than you were a player. In your time as an admin how has your view of the game changed?

Storm: This is a very broad question to answer. I will pick on [what I think is…] the most obvious…The rules are far different, to what we had before. We used to have an open transfer system, open revenge system, and players could join and leave families as they pleased. The turn’s ratio gap between free players and the top sub was 2-1. These are the most prominent things the “old” game used to feature. Around close to the end of that era, I joined staff as a helper. The first thing that happened was that transfers got totally removed from the game. As I can remember, the reason it was done, was because the rules didn’t encourage competition, anymore. It just perpetuated that the same guys won over and over. They also stacked all family and tier rankings, which, in the end from a game design perspective, is not good.

As I COULD see, This old rules led to a one sided game, [which always leads to a lot of general player dissatisfaction] and also when any team dominates, they also try to dictate to and/or scare other users away by any means [mostly] within the rules that is necessary. Then the game becomes an unhappy place for users. So many left for that reason at the time….Now, this being said, that is not against the rules of the game, to be dominant, but as game management we cannot allow the game to become stale, and I guess, to this day, this is the reason we always change things up. Create different challenges. It is risky, for us to do, we always try to challenge the norm but players sometimes see it as us trying to take sides.

From a player perspective, I do understand that it’s cool to be part of a winning team and you feel like you have reached the top. That is the goal of being a gamer. For myself, I am a gamer, I like winning but I also like being challenged. Also having fewer players than before requires scaling down the rules a bit. So, obviously, having transfers across the game open and expecting 24/7 run banks to happen is not practical rules right now.

Around that time that transfers was removed, I was also made admin but with limited decision making as I was still “In Training”. So I couldn’t make sweeping changes the way I wanted but I learned some valuable skills on understanding what is important to sustain the business.

Today, observing the good things we DO have: a better spread of ranks across all tiers, less farming, we are able to sustain the business the same and much better than the Pissheads era when I started as admin. And it is with less customer and player hassles, but also on the other side, today, we got much less players and have to work much harder to keep everyone happy.

Question2: When you were a player you most commonly were a banker or a looter. Which was your preferred playing style? With the changes in gameplay, we know looting and banking are not what they used to be. Do you think that you would like the current gameplay environment more than when you played?

Storm: I was an average looter. I seldom banked, just helped when I was needed, because I played in a faction of looters who made our own bank ‘cos we were pissed off at the powers that be at that time. We were in a year long war where we got our asses handed to us round after round to get maybe 1 level 10 family ranked, and even that was a lot to expect or even a level 1 10th place tier ranks…I am not even kidding you. But the main change thing I see in today's game play, is that players give up too soon and don’t realize that to get to overcome big families and unions requires that you work at it.

You got to work to get allies, and then go fuck the enemies up. Yes I would make a long-term plan, if I was a player, to make an impact somehow. I never bitched at the rules, I just worked to get even with enemies via forming alliances, and being a looter, I really didn’t give a flying shit about being nice about it, I used to love trash talk. And then try to find likeminded people who were pissed off at the same thing, join hands and make a mess.

About my preferred playing style…. I always believed, being a gamer, that one needs to be adaptable. If looting is not the thing for the moment then collect, [try to] kill, or bank. from On a looting note, I am not happy with the way the NPC looting works right now and it has to be adapted, I do feel like [along with many other players] there is not much skill required now to loot, and it is time to change this up, and it is in the works and overdue. I have as good fix and will get it done soon.

Question 3: I have routinely ranted throughout the year that one of TMB largest mistakes was taking the social aspects out of the game. Players loved the old IRC chat system. It provided an avenue to interact with our friends in the game in real time without having to leave the game. Additionally, some of the old timers are still experiencing trivia withdrawals. Is restoring this social interaction without having to use Skype or Facebook even on the staff’s radar?

Storm: The old IRC: I have no idea what that looked like, I spoke to Opie, he actually mentioned the same thing. If more than one of you old [game] fossils mention it was cool then it deserves to be checked out.

Restoring social interaction:….yes I had been thinking about this but I noted that any chat we had was not always well supported by our users…Players naturally migrated to Skype and when I started playing, Skype and Chatzy was THE thing, especially Chatzy, for war.

When you ask “it is even on our radar” you are implying that YOU think it is important, I can understand that, let’s see what other players got to say about it in the comments, if you all could please…?

Question 4: Recently, you and I had a discussion regarding balance in gameplay. We noted it needs to be a balance to appease all of the game styles: collecting, killing, looting, and banking. To me this is a seemingly impossible task, but you have confidence that this can be done. Care to share some of your thoughts on what TMB utopia would be like?

Storm: Some players join the site to have fun, login, kill shit, fuck shit up, chat to friends and enjoy the site socially, in general, logout, rinse, repeat, day after day. The second type probably encompasses some, all, or a lot of the same attributes in #1, but also spend a lot of money on our products. These are the supporters who definitely want value for money spent. Some are big spenders who compete for the JP….and in THAT category there is those who want to fuck shit up and those who want to do it for profit only/sometimes.

So, yes, it becomes tough to setup a set of rules to balance for everyone, and now especially, with a level 4 sub = 8 free players, it’s always on my mind that the gap between free and supporters is huge compared to before. This is one major issue that is different to the past. So setting up competition where the player levels are so far apart requires a mind shift.

Supporters want the best deal for spend… but if they don’t compete against each other so easily, the game gets boring. Then we have to provide a model where the norm gets challenged. If the supporters are all on one side the game rules will adapt to that…this is a game and business with competition in mind and we won’t let anything stay static. So in this case the bots push free players to do something. But as I said earlier, they detract from what true looting should be [ditto with the killing-points bots] and we have a plan to address that aspect

Because this is a business that doesn’t keep its rules static, everything is an experiment based on key KPI’s we keep to try to keep the business going first and foremost.

Ideally, I want to see a good balance of power between looters and collectors and for killing.... I [for a long time now] would like to see a bit more strategy come into how teams work instead of just killing for no reason…[this HAS been improving recently] – I always worry about ops getting killed of low level players for no reason, this used to happen a LOT recently and it looks much better now even though we did lower the cost to hit the business.

Question 5: Players always bitch about the staff, are there times when you want to just tell players to shut up and play the game?

Storm: Sometimes, lol yes, definitely, I am human. But I mean, I don’t mind if players get upset and annoyed and come shout at me via my inbox, that’s all in a day’s work for me. Issues arise when players go public to complain, and in an angry way....while we do understand that users will get upset about stuff as it happens....they tend to break site rules…As a game manager, I have to pay attention to player trends, likes and dislikes. I also have to keep a close eye on the state of the business, and sometimes these do clash - ultimately, a balance of these is always the best way forward.

Question 6: From our past discussions, I know that you have had a remarkable life. You’ve been a national skate boarding champion, and a member of band that has produced numerous albums and played some rather big events. How does being the admin of such a web site with such a large player community compare?

Storm: It’s all in a day’s work. I am a grown adult and have learned to embrace everything as a part of my life. Everything has to synergize into something I can enjoy and everything feels natural to me…. every day.

Question 7: No one business ever succeeds without goals. Would you like to share some of your short-term and long-term goals for TMB?

Storm: Yes. We want to change to responsive design, update the game interface, increase our advertising, and provide new challenges and things for our players to do. This is all on the drawing board and as we achieve budget goals we try to fix and implement each one. Right now we are working on upgraded security for the site. After that some tweaks to game play and then when budget allows, we will proceed with the rest.

Question 8: What do you think of the current make up of a round of TMB?

Storm: I need to go into this with players as soon as we have finished the security upgrades and fixed the NPC to work like 527’s used to. Basically, like I said, a big problem is bridging the gap between level 4 subs and free players. As much as supporters may feel like the BOTs may add more game cash, Free players also feel hard done by if the gap is too big in-between them and supporters, and simply don’t want to play if we don’t take care of that balance.

Question 9: My last question, do you have concerns that as more time elapses since you’re playing days that you are becoming more out of touch with the players’ point of view?

Storm: No. it is my job and primary function to be up to date with everything in the game. The activities we measure to find out what to improve about the business translates to us the viability of our business, and we have to always try to juggle that with player preferences and feedback and budget allowances. The game is on cult status as it has been around for such a long time, and on an old platform. We are working hard to upgrade all of that old code versions, security, servers, operating systems and then as I promised, we will get back to users and do tweaks and create activity that will provide more diversity of game play.

Bonus Question 10: Any shout outs?

Storm: Thanks and shout out to Tiki, and all of our staff, Community staff, players, families, unions who play and work here, thank you for your ongoing support. We are eternally grateful to all of you for being with us, for spending your time and money here at The Mafia Boss.