Interview: Storm Talks Advice for New Players, Game Rules, and Family Killer Ranks.
….. by Clutch

Today’s blog is with one of TMB’s most influential figures. From player to game admin, he’s helped shaped the game into what it is now. Of course, I’m referring to the one and only, Storm. I recently sat down with King of TMB and asked him a few questions – the answers can be viewed below.

Clutch: Let's get right to it with a couple of intro questions. This is a great chance to introduce yourself to any new players reading this who might not know exactly who you are.

Clutch: Where are you from, and how did you get into The Mafia Boss?

Storm: Hello, thanks for the chance to get to chat to you and to all our players. I live in Cape Town, South Africa, 50+ years old but not quite a Senior Citizen yet, lol.

Storm: I started playing probably close to 9 years ago. I was bored at work, found this link on a site called I Am Bored. I never looked back since. Played for around 2 years before I was asked to be on staff as a helper, and became admin around 5-6 years ago.

Clutch: Some would say you are The REAL Mafia Boss. The idea of going from a player to running the game- that's going to be hard to top!

Clutch: When you were a player, what was your favourite part of the game?

Storm: Hmmm.... looting of course. When I started, I really sucked ass. But I had good friends who taught me a lot about the game, the politics, and styles of play. I always enjoyed the interaction with others, pissing people off looting and also figuring out ways to piss off the top guy, who at the time was kind of a bully, with millions of creds at his disposal.

Storm: He pissed me off once, and I never looked back, made it my game mission to at least piss him was cool to interact with other players, who formed our own looting bank, and somehow for a short while we managed to get to the top, but not after seeing our arses for 2 years previously. Some rule changes did help us, but mainly, the guys on top, at the time didn't feel like adapting, and sadly, they left the game en-masse as a family.

Clutch: Do you remember what the name of the family was?

Storm: Yes of course, but I didn't want to put it out there, because I am the game admin, I figure it's not cool to put my personal spin onto players of the game, my opinions, and stuff I did as a player, it's kind of hard and doesn't feel right to mention names in an interview.

Storm: Some of these people still play here. Older players would know the stories. But it's all game play and was good fun, which is always the main reason we are here.

Clutch: I feel that many of these old school stories are very foreign to new players joining the game now.

Clutch: Have you ever thought of collecting all the different accounts of wars, feuds, battles, and otherwise- and compiling an official History of TMB?

Clutch: Or is that perhaps part of the mystique of TMB? "Legends never die," mentality?

Storm: No, I don't have the time to do something like this personally..... but I think it’s a brilliant idea!

Storm: It would really make for some interesting reading, wars started over titties pics, stray hits, swearing at someone's Mom, race, religion, divorce, affairs, scandal...TMB has it all!

Clutch: Earlier you mentioned that certain rule changes helped make possible your run to the top as a player. Now, as game Admin, what kinds of things do you try to take into account when you implement game and rule changes of your own?

Storm: The game has less players, rules that were good 5 years ago would suck now. The only reason TMB is still around as the same platform since 2005... I firmly believe, is because we changed the rules to adapt mainly so the business can survive, and at same time try to have practical changes that ensure that players have a good time, there is fairness and balance.

Storm: Players always have their wishlist of how they would like to see the game, and most of it goes back to how the game was before....TMB was the first game of this kind developed, built by Larbi, and many came afterwards and copied the format exactly, and today, very few of them survive, if any. So when we consider changes is mainly when the game becomes one sided...then it’s not about playing favorites, we have to then make changes that stimulate competition, and change things up to try to make players adapt to a different style of play, without too much being unfair to players who are already on top.

Storm: I don't believe any game should be an easy challenge and success shouldn’t come overnight, but this game has a 10 day stop/start platform and the challenge here is to engage users every 10 days, hope you come back, play here, and support us.

Storm: A new user coming in, with the current game status, has a very tough time to get into the game, and this remains our biggest challenge, that we have an old platform, and the learning curve is steep, so growing the game today, is really tough, when we are up against all sorts of new games with modern code, graphics, animation so with rules changes, we have to take all of that into consideration, we don’t make changes always that players like but it has made the business survive so far.

Clutch: That definitely does sound like a fair way to handle things.

Clutch: Some would argue, however, for the past many rounds, it seems to just be IC VS Bang_Bang union going for the top spots, as we haven't seen very many challenges to their dominance. Is the game getting too one-sided in that way, or is that what you would consider to be healthy competition at the top?

Storm: That's not the same. At the moment they are the dominating families, if you want to beat them you got to ante up.

Clutch: What would you say is the determining measure for 'too one sided' - and triggering a rule/game change?

Storm: Making a change comes when the game gets stale. It’s done when we do research and measure player satisfaction when the business needs to, when support drops, when the game is one sided, and there ARE families, players who CAN challenge but don’t want to and feel like they not getting fair value from their game play investment of time and/or money. We don’t just do rule changes when we feel like it and players in the main round...they don’t like sudden change in general.

Clutch: Under the current rule sets, what would be your advice to new players wanting to start a family of their own?

Storm: A new player should never start their own family. Learn the ropes first, get to know the game, the community. The game is quite complex, so take time to learn it all.

Storm: For bosses out there, building a family takes time, and also recruiting new players helps not only the game to grow, it also helps your family to develop loyal players from the get-go, if you treat them right and teach them the ropes. Keeping a family together would still be based on making the family work as a team, become friends, have fun chatting together, working together.

Storm: Winning prizes isn’t as tough as it used to be, but it’s still quite a challenge to try to build a dynasty....that takes time, diplomacy, and the ability to be able to attract top players to your family/union. It’s a definite skill you need to be a great Boss.

Clutch: Those are words to live by in the TMB world.

Clutch: My two cents are that if you're going to start a new family of your own, you should already have a group of players willing to join you. It usually doesn't work out if you're just on your own.

Storm: True

Clutch: I have a burning question to ask ... and it's kind of taboo.

Storm: Sure

Clutch: Family Killer Ranks. What's the full story for players who don't know? What were they, how were they gained, and why aren't they around anymore?

Storm: A few years back I was admin in training.....and the current crew of advisers to larbi suggested that ranking and he did it...the game ran with it for a while and in the end the entire game was just desolate, the game became one sided toward killers and killing only and money-making/looting and collecting was not done anymore. The game lost even more players then, and I took that ranking prize away.

Storm: The game used to only have one killer rank prize level from 1-10. So also, players were just killing for kill points, farming, was a MILLION times worse, killing players for no reason, no more wars, just stupid senseless fucking killing.

Storm: I have vowed I will never take the game down that road again, this is not a shoot em up game, and all styles of play need to be balanced. Unfortunately active gameplay styles is rewarded the same as passive play, but the hard fact to the game as a business is that everyone needs to be catered for. We need to grow the game and having any rules that just zeros the game in the first 2 days, will not happen on my watch.

Clutch: There are two big 'rebirth' ideas for those ranks I would love to run by you.

Clutch: The first being to bring them back only for turbo rounds. Since the turbo rounds are only 2 days long, and it takes some time for KP to accumulate, do you think it would drastically affect the turbo rounds?

Storm: We can do killer ranks prizes for turbo but again it will just marginalize players who don’t like it. With regards to how kill points work, I am not a fan of what we got. I have never like the idea of accumulating KP's. I know all the reasons why it was done and it was done before my time as admin.

Clutch: That actually leads me perfectly into the second idea - which is to change the family killer ranks from being based on KP, but rather, be based on total hit count (of hits over 100m) -- Aka the 'Most violent mafioso' award, but for full families.

Storm: Look, I will never again reward entire families for killing. Let’s be clear on that. I have seen what the long term effects of that is and I won’t go down that road again.

Clutch: Let's break some hearts here: those who don't have a complete family killer set are never going to get them?

Storm: Yes.

Storm: Many didn’t get level 4 medals and have uncomplete sets. That may be a shitty analogy, but really the damage that prize ranking did to the game sucked ass. It took away any reason to be strategic about wars. There was no balance between making war to stop a family from making cash and just plain killing for the points.

Clutch: Thank you for clearing that one up - I know that to many players, they just get excited about being able to earn different medals, and for many older players, it's the only milestone untouched.

Storm: Look the game play is modelled mainly on making money, via looting or collecting and when you do kill, it’s a strategic thing to stop someone from doing that. Now when we had the family killer ranks, the cost to hit ops was also like 5 turns. We lost 1000's of players due to that. Sure they were collectors but they were in excess of 1000's.

Clutch: I remember the days of players getting 'double-zeroed'

Storm: Players who don’t have time to sit for 5 hours at a time to loot and kill, but are the backbone of the game numbers.

Storm: The issue now is that the cost to hit ops is abnormally high but its kept a core of players here. if we drop it, the strong families just kill everyone's ops and no one has any joy in the game, because it just becomes one sided. So again it’s another rule made in reaction to an imbalance caused by a number of factors.

Storm: The balance of the game is very delicate to maintain. Just remember also this, being a business, keeps stats on everything so when we see key indicators dropping we have to address it, find the reason and fix it or we won’t have a game to play, and again just back to your earlier....this is basically a very key reason why we will tweak some changes in the game.

Clutch: Each round, the rules are slightly different - but we do see the same rules being used from time to time. Do you have a 'playlist' of sorts that you rotate through for the rule sets, or do you decide the rules each round as they happen?

Storm: Main round rules is constant and we adjust it when we see some alarming drops in some key indicator measures turbo round rules we can play with and I actually am planning to setup a few things around this - setting a 4 day special round of no added creds, etc. every 3 months... I still want to hear player input on this, turbo rounds is the place where we can do some cool variations.

Clutch: That's personally my favorite part of the game - is the turbo rounds. I always look forward to seeing what the new rules will be.

Clutch: We haven't seen a 10:1 ratio main round in a while; do you have any plans for making those rules more common in the main rounds, as they are in turbos?

Storm: Yes if players want it.

Storm: I do read all suggestions on the boards, some of them I just file under game suggestions because it may not be high on priority list for the business, but we also always try to see what is popular with players, and if there are many calls for it then we will do it.

Storm: Let's not mistake that for making a lot of calls for killer ranks, it's not the same thing lol.... I know there are some persistent players out there!

Clutch: Now, as the game admin, you must see a lot of interesting stuff float through your inbox. What are some of the craziest, weirdest, or strangest things you've had to deal with as an admin? (No need to mention names - but bonus points if you do.)

Storm: Getting hacked. That was fucking awful… and then getting a message from the dude who did it. That was number 1 suck ass thing. But in retrospect I don’t feel so bad after learning that the FBI, Sony, Twitter, tons of sites also went down same time.... and also seeing as the hacker actually took pity on us after seeing that we are a small business, and helped us fix our holes. That was pretty fucked.

Storm: Then of course the usual assorted crazies, titties pics being offered, marriage proposals, and upset players, some golden moments there. Race wars, religious wars, seen it all some funny, some very ugly things.... cheaters being caught, the list is endless.

Clutch: Of recent rounds, what are some things you've seen from players & families that make you proud of the game, and how far it has come?

Storm: Hmmm.... FoundHell, Warhounds, SS, Nameless, those smaller families that are in it and come back round after round. The vets in IC, who have been here for years and come back round after round, The IU guys, who have stuck with the game through thick and thin, and still are on a top a lot still these days... VBP family, still mad as ever, Avengers, still true to what they were years ago.... The supporters who spend here, the free players who shake things up here, it’s been holding out nicely, we still have a great community and I am happy to still be a part of this game.

Storm: Skids players popping in from time to time, always nice to see old faces..... There is so much about this game and job that makes me happy, and angst at the same time.

Storm: We got some serious work to do to upgrade the game code, and that’s gonna take a few months and a whole lot of cash, but when it’s done the game will be safer, more secure, faster, and mobile friendly will be completed.

Storm: The money we make from the site, we put back into the site. Larbi, myself, we don’t take much money out of the game as much as we put back in. So we are investing into things that can carry the game into the next 10 years.

Clutch: It sounds like we have much to look forward to in the months and years to come!

Storm: Yes, once the new code is updated it will be much easier also to add new types of things, and less complex to code.

Clutch: Before we wrap up here, I would like to ask you a series of rapid fire questions. The goal is to answer each question with just one word! What do you say?

Storm: Shoot

Clutch: Collecting or looting?

Storm: Duh…..

Clutch: Indy or Union?

Storm: Ehhh…..

Clutch: Free Player or Paid Player?

Storm: Both

Clutch: If you could add one new city to the game, what city would it be?

Storm: Johannesburg

Clutch: Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather?

Storm: Conor!!!!

Clutch: Thank you for taking the time to chat, Storm! We truly value what you do for the game, as well as the time and hard work you put in. Is there anything we missed that you would like to touch on?

Storm: Sure thing brother - thanks for taking the time to chat to me.

Storm: No I am good thank you, just a message to all players: please feel free to pop in to my inbox anytime, if you have any queries, ideas, or complaints.

Storm: Thanks a lot bro for all the work you do on the site. It’s much appreciated.

Clutch: My pleasure!

Storm: Chat soon, let me get back to work!

Clutch: and on that note, we're done! Until next time folks