Us Hello Xavier. Would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi! You can find me on the boards and in the news section [of the ‘Ryzom’ Website] under my real name, Xavier Antoviaque, and in-game under Kalhaan.
And what is your Job at ‘Ryzom’?
I currently work on ‘Ryzom’ as Community Liaison, which means I’m responsible for ensuring that the communication between the ‘Ryzom’ community and the development team is good. In pratical terms, it means I have to keep an eye on the community needs and lobby them up to the devs, while explaining the development choices made for ‘Ryzom’ to the players. I’m also involved in more technical tasks, like Web development & the supervision of the system & network administration of our servers.
How did you actually became a community manager?
Hum, it was a few years ago already! Time slips away so quickly in this kind of job… I was still studying when a friend of mine gave me a link to one of the first MMOs localized in French: ‘The Fourth Coming’. It was an horrible game, but since I was new to the genre, I was hooked anyway (laughs). Then I was offered a volunteer position, and I progressively got more and more responsabilities – until the point where I was offered a job (laughs).
For ‘Ryzom’, I first worked in IT (which is why I still keep an eye on our server farm). Then about one year ago, we wanted to improve the communication with the players, and I moved to my current position.
How does a normal day at work look like for you?
Well, there is no such thing as a “normal” day (laughs). I have to stay in touch with both the dev team and the players, adapting my planning and TODO list to the latest hot topics. And since there are so many things happening in a continuously evolving genre, I almost always work on something different from one day to another. And that’s one of the reasons why I like doing this so much, despite the crazy working hours and the unavoidable consequences on personal life! (laughs)
Ok, then let me ask you about some regular tasks you have to do.
Yes there are some tasks I perform regularly: like checking the boards and answering questions there, writing news, solving my teams‘ issues to allow them to work in good conditions, writing some code, setting up processes, participating in meetings …
How are in general reactions from other people when you tell them that you work as a professional for a online RPG?
Ususally, they have their eyes widening, saying “Really?! This should be a damn fun job to do!”. And it definitely is. However, they often miss to see how demanding and hard this can be at points. Some of them even think I’m playing all day long! They tend to only hear the word game, and forget that this is a professional job, with huge piles of work to complete in a fast-paced and stressful environment. But, even once I’ve explained this, they tend to agree with me on one point: that’s a job you wouldn’t give out easily (laughs).
Do you think your occupation is something fairly long-term for you?
In such a field, it’s difficult to make any long-term plans. Everything changes too quickly to know for sure what you’ll do the next year or even if you will still like working in this field. The MMORPG genre, and the game industry in general, is poisoned by money-seekers who are there, not by passion, but for the money they can get from it. You never know how far they will go. But as long as I enjoy doing this as I do know, I see no reason to quit (laughs).
Do you have a personal relation to MMORPGs?
Definitely! And this should even increase as time passes; currently, still a good part of my friends aren’t MMO players – not that I didn’t tried to convert them (laughs). But the genre isn’t ready for them yet. We are still pretty much in the prehistory of MMOs, relying on static content and lengthy character progression rules. As the MMO genre is maturing, I expect it to hook more people and infiltrate more parts of our personal and online life. Playing an MMORPGs is already a way of life. And tomorrow, with a bit of luck and hard work, it could well be an important component of society …
… and do you play for yourself a MMORPG right now? Even that one which you’re working for?
Yes, my main MMORPG currently is of course ‘Ryzom’ (laughs). I especially play a lot to ‘The Ryzom Ring’ [the upcoming Add-on] lately, since I’m taking care of its alpha test – it fits my taste for pen & paper RPG quite nicely (laughs). And even if it’s hard to find enough time to play several MMOs simultaneously, I’ve also tried a bit of Guild Wars recently.
Xavier, I’d like to thank you for the talk.