Small things are the most important things sometimes. Neither one of us are going to be able to solve the world’s problems. But if we can solve one small problem, then we’ve done our job. I think this is what Legend, our blog ex-author wants to do at G1. So, we made some questions for him, which he answered us :
Project AI: Since when do you play 9Dragons, and what is your character like?
Legend: I play since end of 2006, and since approx. april 2007 I play straight Vagabond. I started the clanless character for fun, just wanted to play it when I would be bored with my clan character, but what I found was the perfect kind of playing a game for me, and so it became pretty fast my main character.
Project AI: You are well known in the 9Dragons community as Vagabond. Can you explain why?
Legend: Well, when I started the vagabond character, it was clear for me that this character would always stay clanless, after all if I would want to play in a clan I could play another character. I wanted to become known as Vagabond and maybe even as symbol, doing the right things. And so the name was born: Legend. When I started that character I actually just wanted to play and to get a high level, but I found lack of understanding. There were many who gave me their respects for playing such a character, what I enjoyed of course. But many people just insulted and offended me, for no reason, only because I decided to play a clanless character. Some day, this made me doing the decision to stand for the vagabonds, and even make the clanless way popular. If I look at where I stand now and what I achieved with my idea, I don’t regret of being insulted by others. But even today I get still insulted for that, and so do other vagabond players. I think, I will stay around in 9Dragons until this is changed, no matter what I have to do.
Project AI: What do you like in 9Dragons?
Legend: The most I love is the simpleness. Nothing too complicated what forces you to search for the answers on the internet. You can learn it ingame. I also love it because it is about the ancient china, and the game story makes it very special. 9Dragons may have many bugs, but it will always have players, and I think that’s because of the game story, and what the story makes out of the game. Many other MMORPGs with such issues would have died already since a long while.
Project AI: What do you dislike in 9Dragons?
Legend: The incapability of Indy21 to fix prehistoric bugs… I also disliked Acclaim a lot, because they never listened to their players – who actually payed their earnings – and even faced them with arrogance. Also I dislike some kind of players who think they can do whatever they want, just because they know some GMs.
Project AI: Many people would be surprised now. After all you’re a forum moderator at GamersFirst now.
Legend: That’s true, but I am only honest. I was always just honest, nothing more. That was the source of my character. I think, if someone wants to take my words bad, then he or she shall do it. I don’t mind it, because I realize that this is only virtual. I don’t know anybody in-game in reality, except for a few people.
Project AI: Don’t you think being honest might be dangerous for your position as forum moderator?
Legend: Oh, I am aware that some ex-moderators from Acclaim don’t like to have me there. But if that would make it dangerous for me, I would be definitively at the wrong place. Furthermore, this moderator job isn’t so important for me like it is for some other people… I am there because I want to give it a try to change some things. I want to bring my ideas for in-game events and content, and my main goal is to bring enjoyment to the players. If I should lose my position as forum moderator only because I say honest what I think, then it is not worth to give my energy and ideas to GamersFirst and 9Dragons.
Project AI: What do you think about G1’s 9Dragons forum compared with Acclaim’s one?
Legend: GamersFirst’s 9Dragons forums are more coordinated and controled than Acclaim’s forums ever were, even if we are only a few moderators yet. I see GamersFirst as the best publisher 9Dragons could and can ever get. And believe me, we won’t get a better publisher than GamersFirst. They do have the ability to bring the old glory of 2006 and 2007 back into this game – If they keep real.
Project AI: What about the new/old moderators?
Legend: I had already a few conflicts with the other moderators. Many did not understand my points, some even laughed at me. But Hyperion surprised me already many times. He has the rare ability to understand the point from every party. Some conversations with him made me understand many things I never understood. However, as far as I heard, some of the ex-moderators from Acclaim really got an issue with the fact that I am in the mod team. But I don’t really mind that. It is only a job at my spare time, no reason to take that too serious. GamersFirst’s moderators aren’t so professional like for example forum moderators from Microsoft, but this is because such companies like Microsoft got a different income and pay people who studied the right thing for being forum moderators. Companies like GamersFirst offer Free2Play games. Not every customer pays money, so they take volunteers. However; That doesn’t mean I think GamersFirst’s forum mods are doing a bad job. They may not be very open minded and understanding, but they do a good job at keeping the forum under control. At the current state with all the flamers and trolls, it is essential to keep the control at least at the forums. GamersFirst has to face first issues caused by Acclaim, the vietnamese 9D version, hackers, and so on.But after all, if GamersFirst would only hire professional moderators they would pay, they would’ve never take me, and I would have never the chance to change. I try to see at everything the good and bad things.
Project AI: What about freedom of speech?
Legend: Well, how Hyperion himself already wrote on the forum, and I quote, “there’s no such thing as ‘free speech'”. But I learned to understand why it is like that. On such big communities, if you would keep freedom of speech, you would lose the control, and the forum would turn into a troll graveyard. To offer a clean and enjoyable forum to the players who just like to talk about the game, or share their experiences, or just search the right guide for the game, it is necessary to set some hard rules, which, at the end, do not allow freedom of speech. People who can’t be mature and have to flame and troll all the time are the reason why such hard rules are necessary. I always try to explain such things to the community, if I do have the opportunity. My war with Acclaim showed me, if people do not understand something, it is only a reason to fight. I’m not saying that Acclaim did a good job. But if you understand a point, you will maybe agree and maybe even say to yourself “I would do the same”. If Acclaim would not have been so arrogant and act like “we’re the boss, we make the rules”, then they would have a lot less stress than they had.
Project AI: What about G1’s game manager? Strengths, weaknesses?
Legend: Hyperion is a very good person, as far as I can tell. He always tries to understand every person – If the person isn’t flaming or trolling. I know that his PM inbox got a limit of 1000 PMs, but he reads every single PM, because he thinks there may be something important between. He also tries to reply to every PM. I started to fight against Acclaim because I was ignored. With such people like Hyperion, it would have never happen what happened between me and Acclaim. But Hyperion got a very big weakness which may cause fatal problems sooner or later: He’s doing all the important jobs alone. As far as I know, he wants a Community Manager, a professional one of course, but I don’t know why he didn’t get one until now. With so much important tasks to handle with, there will always be something what will be forgotten.
Project AI: Was 9Dragons at Acclaim better than it is now? Back in 2007, was it better than it is now?
Legend: Community-wise, 2007 was indeed better than now. Game-wise, I don’t think so. We only got more bugs now than we had back then because we also have more content. The community back then was new. 9Dragons was new. Steven-Elliot Altman took his job serious and actually talked with the players, informed and explained them some things. Our current community is only so furious because Acclaim made them like that. The good people are leaving more and more, it was always like that. Good people do not have the patience to waste their time. They only want to enjoy the game, so they just change the game. The ones who stay at the end are the trolls who have to flame everything, even other community members, for no reason. I’m not saying it is like that right now, but that’s the typical pattern, and that’s what happened on Acllaim and what’s happening right now. There are many issues with the game at the moment, so the players just lose their hope already. That’s just normal and understandable. But I think, it is better right now than it was at the end of Acclaim, for many reasons. The best example: Acclaim indirectly sold the best in-game items for real money, while we got some of them now available in-game for everyone. At GamersFirst, there’s also a cap of the amount of money a player can use for coins each month, the cap depends on the country. Those two factors are a big reason why the players with a lot of real money won’t dominate the game like it was at Acclaim. And last but not least: We got a game-director who cares about the players and got interest into their opinion. Believe me, when the community is nice to Hyperion, then he is nice to the community, and he will let them feel his love in-game. It is just a shame that he has rarely enough time for the community and has to do so many things by his own. But no matter how bad it currently is, I am confident that it will get better, with time.
Project AI: What about the new dozends of gold seller websites?
Legend: Yes, I’m aware of this new trend, and I know such websites now also sell in-game items. I can’t say a lot about this, mainly because I don’t know a lot. And that what I know I should better keep for myself. I learned on a disappointing way to not trust the community that much. I made one time the error to give hints to the members in the forum, and what I got were flames. I learn from my mistakes, so I leave such things to Hyperion. He shall decide when to reveal something and when not. However, I also learned to understand why a publisher can’t explain everything. Many things are delicate. If a publisher would explain such things, there would indeed be many unstatisfied players who would say “Ahhh, that’s why…” and understand the situation. But many others, who use every single chance to cheat and damage the game for their selfish reasons, would take advantage of such situations.
Project AI: How do you find the 9Dragons community of players as a moderator?
Legend: When I became a moderator and “changed the sides” more or less, it was a difficult time. I understood many things what Acclaim and their mods did, not everything though. I had to focus on my goals and on what purpose I took this position. With my new “power” I understood why so many Acclaim mods were so arrogant and mean to the players. I understood why they thought they are the kings on the forums and just did what they wanted. Luckily I was able to find a good middle way, understanding the publisher and the players, and trying to make each party understanding the other one. That’s never easy, because mankind rarely understands his “opponent”. But if I would not keep fighting for anything, it would not be fun anymore…
Project AI: If you would be Hyperion, what would be the first thing you would do for 9Dragons?
Legend: Difficult question. Either, I would tell Indy21 to develop the advanced clans and vagabond path, or I would tell them to fix the old bugs. Both ways would be good, and still many players would not understand it and complain. But I would declare the VGM system as “will not happen at GamersFirst”, monitor both GMs who moved from Acclaim very closely and watch with what kind of players they talk to, and always trying to make the community understand the situations and points of the publisher.
Project AI: What do you think should a moderator have as qualities?
Legend: I love open minded people. There’s no better teacher than an open minded person. I think, this is a necessary ability, if GamersFirst wants to calm down the 9Dragons community and keep them calm. Otherwise, there will always be community members trolling, flaming and spamming around, because they don’t understand something. But as forum moderator, you also have to be an asshole. Moderators should be able to kick a players butt without regret, if it has to be. That was quite difficult for me at the beginning. Also, a moderator should have honor and the respect for the forum. With this I mean, a moderator should treat every player equal, and not doing favors to their friends and make it complicated to their foes. If a moderator doesn’t want to punish his/her friends, then he/she should leave it to the other moderators, so that the fairness stays. And those people a moderator doesn’t like should only be ignored, and not searching a way to ban them from the forum.
Project AI: Why do you think that Hyperion picked you?
Legend: I guess because I am how I am. I say what I think without to care about the others. Also, I think I am creative and got many good ideas for events, and as far as I know, my long-time knowledge of the vagabond path was a reason too. Even if many people tried to talk with him and to convince him to not take me, I think he saw my abilities and just wanted to give it a try and to see it with his own eyes instead of believing other people. I don’t think he trusts me fully yet, but that’s normal and understandable for me. I didn’t expect my past with Acclaim to be forgotten.
Project AI: What was your favorite moment as moderator on forum until today?
Legend: The many positive PMs from the people. No matter how many trolls I have to face, how many Legend-haters and Legend-flamers there are, there will always be nice people who understand my handlings, my opinions, and like my being since a long time. Every single one of those nice PMs, whispers and any other feedbacks I recived helped me to keep my goal and to stay loyal to myself. They made my work and my fight worth. At this point, let me give a thank you to all them: Thanks for all your nice feedbacks, folks! You all helped me to keep my way. Thanks a lot!
Project AI: What do you think changed in 9Dragons since you started playing until now?
Legend: The most publishers learn by their past and mistakes, and make it better. Sadly – or luckily, depending from which side you’re looking from – Acclaim never did that, but rather the opposite. I do understand many complaining players, but I also understand GamersFirst. I see this new publisher who has to fix issues which were made and caused by Acclaim and other selfish parties. I see already a lot things which GamersFirst does a lot better than Acclaim ever did, but this game and its community is still new for them. A lot more time has to pass, to finally get back the good times from 2006 & 2007, and to even make it much better than that.
Project AI: What is your opinion on Item Mall prices?
Legend: The Item Mall prices are ok, I guess. Not a lot different than Acclaim’s base prices. The reason why so many players are complaining about the prices is because Acclaim made so many promotions, what makes us still wondering if this was legal after all. Also, Acclaim just charged the same NUMBER of money, while GamersFirst charges the approx. same amount of money. What I mean is, if an amount of coins was in the USA 10 US Dollar, then the exact same amount of coins was 10 Euro in Germany, 10 Euro in France, 10 Swiss Franks in Switzerland, and so on. Depending on the country, you could get either more coins for your money or less. 1 euro, for example, is currently approx. 1.3 swiss franks, and it was 1.5 swiss franks for a long time. Those who can count will see now why some people had to pay more for the same amount of coins than other people from another country.
Project AI: Does the Mall stuff create advantages for your character?
Legend: Yes, of course. Every Item Mall user got big advantages. The premium buff for example. This always helps a lot on grinding, no matter what your role or your level is. Every item from the Item Mall creates its own advantage. That’s the purpose of an Item Mall. As long it doesn’t create too big advantages, I think it’s alright.
Project AI: Do you think that the ‘character templates’ will change something?
Legend: Yes, I think so – Even if it may not be a lot. But this is necessary. This will bring some fairness back, even if the wrong ones have to pay for that. I believe since a very long time that Acclaim/Playdom/Disney doesn’t give the original character database out and will never do so, to avoid a big scandal and with it probably a fatal lawsuit. There are rumors that Acclaim’s servers runned with cracked software, also it is questionable if it was legal to make so many promotions. Also it is known that some GMs changed some things from some players accounts (friends-and-foe-favor-pattern). I believe, if the character database would come back, many secrets would be revealed. Deleting the database means deleting the evidence. But that’s only a conspiracy, and my conspiracies were always lies, weren’t they..? 😉
Project AI: From your experience, what would you share with the others players?
Legend: I can just advise the players to try to understand the other side. If the players don’t want to play the game at the current state, then I recommend to play something else and check 9Dragons again on a later date. The improvement on 9Dragons won’t stop. I want also ask the players to just let the other people play the game how they want. Sure, after a shitty day, it’s nice to log into the 9Dragons forum or game and to start to flame everything… But it just makes it complicated for the publisher and will only slow down important tasks. Better use Chatroulette or something similar to flame and annoy other people…
Project AI: As the last question, how do you see 9Dragons’ future?
Legend: That’s a difficult question. There are many things which have to go right and can go wrong. Indy21, going back to the roots instead of making stuff which doesn’t fit into the typical 9Dragons pattern. GamersFirst, keep up the patience with the players and just keep trying to make it better. Some GMs, stopping to do some favors to some players and finally get professional. Moderators, to not make the same errors like in the past to prevent a new war with a strong group of players. And last but not least, keeping the players entertained and making from time to time some nice in-game events, to make them enjoy the game and forget the annoying bugs and hackers. I can’t say yet for sure how I see the future of 9Dragons, but what I can say is that GamersFirst does have the ability to make this game to one of the best MMORPGs, and I do believe that they will succeed at this task, sooner or later.