The History of Information Gathering

For any game developing company, it is a wise decision to gather game-relevant information about the players who are playing your game, and to show interest in what your players have to say.
In the very beginning, you might follow your own vision only, but with time you simply need to know who you are developing for, who you attract with your game, what your so-called target group is, and what your players are actually doing ingame. It is important to know what they like and dislike and what different problems they come across. The goal is obviously to provide a good gaming experience for your customers. Only if they like the game, they will continue playing.

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We gather quite some statistical ingame information automatically that can be analysed and evaluated. Apart from that, there is an entire team nowadays in CipSoft that is mainly responsible for collecting further feedback, feedback that contains more sensitive and complex information than any automatic tool could gather.

For example, we community managers read conversations among players on forums and on fansites in order to get a feeling for general trends in the community, and to get to know what is on your mind, what is bothering you about the game or recent changes, and what you really like or wish for.
Besides reading the forums and the comments on fansites, we community managers collect further feedback with our feedback forms and polls.

That is the situation today. It has not always been like this, though. In the very early days of Tibia, not much information was gathered.
We still have a very old and dusty version of the official Tibia website from 1997, and on it, we can only find a very small piece of information about the community back then. There were no highscore lists, no census, only this little map that displays Germany and lists numbers of players from some other countries. According to this old website, there were 583 Tibia players all in all, worldwide on November 28, 1997.
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On another version of Tibia’s website from the year 2000, we can already find a bit more ingame relevant information about the community.
On the version of September 15, 2000, we do see highscore lists, with Arieswar on top at the time, with level 66, and also kill statistics were already generated back then. Even a census was created, which showed the distribution of levels, of professions, of gender, and of residence.
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Today, we also still have this kind of information, and internally, we also still have a type of census, which we community managers sometimes present to you, for example, in featured articles about statistics.

As mentioned before though, we do a lot more nowadays. The community has grown immensely, CipSoft as a company has grown, too, and Tibia itself has also grown a lot. If you look at the picture of the old census, you might have noticed that there are only 2 cities listed there as possible residences. These two were all existing cities apart from Rookgaard 13 years ago. No Edron, no Venore, no Ab’Dendriel, etc.

Obviously, a lot has changed, and apart from the automatical data gathering, the reading of forums and fansites, we also work with polls and feedback forms, as mentioned before.
The use of a poll tool and feedback forms started way before the community management team was introduced in September 2008. Most of the feedback collecting was part of the daily job of the customer support team at that time.

Nowadays, we community managers have monthly general feedback forms that you can fill in once a month to let us know what is on your mind. We read and categorise all your statements there, and forward them internally to the people who are in charge of decision making processes.
In addition to these monthly feedback forms, we also have special feedback forms with special questions. The results of these special feedback forms are also topics for featured articles sometimes, especially if the results are of greater interest for the entire community.

Polls are more like quick questions. They provide you with preset choices of possible answers, and also the results are displayed automatically.
Internally, we have a few more options to read and interpret poll results than the mere overall results which are presented publicly in the poll section. For example, internally we can see the poll results split into different countries, or in premium and free account players. Also, we see the exact number of players who participated.
The poll tool was enhanced over time with new features, it has not always been like this, either. These different updates of the poll tool are the reason why you cannot check the results of the very early polls any longer publicly. Only the polls after November 10, 2006 can be viewed in the poll section.

This tool, however, was first introduced in October 2004. Do any of you remember the very first poll question we asked?
We started asking players a pretty direct question about a new currency unit in Tibia.
19,082 players submitted their vote in this very first poll, and over 70% of the participants decided that the name for the new currency unit in Tibia should be ‘crystal coins’.
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The second poll we did, in November 2004, was about skillbars:

“As part of the christmas update we are thinking about introducing an indicator that shows how much longer it will take until you advance in a skill. What’s your opinion? Do you think this would be a good feature for Tibia?”

93.59% of all 17,337 participants chose that “bars in the skill window” would be a very good option. Only 3.8% wanted an alternative indicator, and 2.27% wanted us to leave it as it was back than, which meant not displaying how much longer it would take till you get a skill advance. Only 0.35% of the participants said that they were not interested in that topic and did not care whether we would introduce skill bars or not.
To be honest, such distinct poll results are not very typical. If you think about the poll question though, it really does make sense to show skill advances in the window that also shows the skills, where else would you put that info? So after all, this is not very surprising.
After our first experiences with this new tool, and once players got used to it, less and less people showed interest in polls, and the number of participants quickly sank below 10,000.
Nowadays, we hardly reach such high numbers of participants anymore, however, we do get close on polls that really matter, for example the “Biggest Problems in Tibia”-polls, and also on polls that are easy and fun, for example the “Guess the Date of the Update”-polls.

We also even surpassed the 10,000 participants limit once again, that was with the poll “Where are you from?” in May 2009. However, we had lots of help back then from fansites who promoted this one a lot, especially the fansites that focus on Tibia players from a certain country, like TibiaBR, for example.
In 2009, as you can see here, all in all, 26.56% of all poll participants stated that they were from Brasil, whereas only 20.48% of the poll participants who were premium at the time stated the same.
In the year 2005, we had asked the same question. Back then, 44.29% of all participants said they were Brasilian, but only 29.31% of those with premium time claimed to be from Brasil.

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In a more recent customer survey, in 2011, once again Brasil came out as the top country of our customers. Altogether, 29.38% of all participants said they come from there, and 27.93% of our premium customers were Brasilian according to the survey that was done in a feedback form.

Now – comparing these numbers to some real numbers, we can see immediately that poll results are often vague and do not reflect the reality completely. Polls can only give you an idea. The real percentage of Brasilian premium customers were:
in 2005: 21.93% (compared to 29.31% from the poll results)
in 2009: 32.62% (compared to 20.48% from the poll results)
in 2011: 43,48% (compared to 27.93% from the feedback form results)
As you can see, while in reality the proportion of Brasilian premium customers has grown constantly and actually also quite a bit in between 2005 and 2011, this trend is not visible in the poll results.

A reason for this could be that with our polls, we do not reach all player groups equally. They are not done ingame, and somebody who does not visit www.tibia.com regularly might not even know that there are weekly polls. With this tool, we only reach players who speak English, who are interested in Tibia’s website, and actually spend time on it. So when interpreting poll results, we always have to keep this in mind and need to validate the results in other ways.
What the poll and survey results really tell us is that the proportion of premium Brasilian players who participate in the polls and surveys on our website has not changed much over the years. In comparision to the real numbers, we can immediately see that the Brasilian community is definitely underrepresented there.

Being able to do ingame polls – polls that you all can choose to answer directly while you are logged in – is one feature of our internal community managers’ wishlist. In our eyes, that would improve the quality of the poll results quite a bit, since we would reach far more players from all kinds of player groups. That is music of the future though, since there are indeed a lot more pressing issues that our developers have to take care of first. Looking at the development of information gathering though in CipSoft, and the importance of feedback, who knows what the future will bring?

Tibia has been evolving for a really long time already, and we are happy to be able to watch Tibia evolve even further. We are also happy and grateful that you accompany Tibia and us on this exciting and long lasting journey!

See you in Tibia!
Your Community Managers

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