For the players of MMORPGs, a peek behind the curtains has always been a source of fascination in itself. Especially the Game Masters, with their superhuman powers and capabilites, are usually stylized as godlike creatures inside the virtual worlds. Unfortunately, publishers and Game Masters are, for the most part, very secretive when it comes to the proceedings inside the holy halls. This circumstance only fuels the fascination and the imagination of the players even more.

One player was allowed to peek behind the curtains of the holy halls not too long ago, though.

FlyFF YouTuber / Livestreamer in an interview with a Game Master

In the murky pulp of happenings and chaos in Madrigal, some players may ask themselves what things look like on the other side of the table. Not particularly much is known about this, since WEBZEN is not very transparent when it comes to the work behind the curtains. This is neither surprising nor unusual in the gaming industry. Still, we as players would love to have a little more insight into the work at WEBZEN.

The German FlyFF YouTuber and Livestreamer Pwnance seems to have had the same thought. So it was that he contacted the newcomer on the Game Master Team – Rakai – directly via Discord PM, on the off chance that he might be willing to give an interview. To our surprise, Rakai accepted the offer immediately. Why this came as a surprise to us will be clarified at the end of this article.

The FlyFF GM Interview on YouTube

On his YouTube channel, Pwnance, among other things, is publishing a sort of podcast. In this format, he invites guests to philosophize about a certain topic. His interview with Rakai is part of this podcast series and available on his channel since last week.

Since most of the English FlyFF community is probably not a master of the German language, we have collected the questions and answers from the video and then processed and translated them.

Disclaimer: The interview from the video is an open dialouge between Pwnance and Rakai. For this reason, our translated summary is mostly not made up of literal quotes. This approach was necessary in order to convert the content into a typical question/answer format.

Who are you and what motivated you to become a Game Master / Community Manager?

I am Rakai, 28, born in Germany, but I am currently residing in Dublin. I am the Community Manager for FlyFF and Rappelz. During my training to become an industrial management assistant, I was working as a Volunteer for WEBZEN’s ‘Age of Wulin’. The CM for ‘Age of Wulin’ at the time recruited me at one point along the way. I thought ‘Why not?’. I’ve always wanted to set foot outside of Germany and see the world. So I accepted. A week after finishing my apprenticeship, I moved to Dublin. That was two and a half years ago.

Do you play FlyFF privately nowadays, or are you content engaging professionally with both the community and the game?

I myself don’t play. I don’t have enough free time to play even more games. For me, working with FlyFF and Rappelz 8 hours a day is enough. I think that, at some point, it would just become too much.

What does the day-to-day business of a Game Master for WEBZEN look like?

Here at the office, we luckily have flex time. Between 8 and 10 a.m. is when we start. First thing is tickets and being active on the Discord servers. Then there is the test servers, which we use to test all manners of things; first and foremost for the recreation of bug reports sent in by the community, which are then being sent to the developers in Korea. Furthermore, a lot of statistics have to be custom-built for our Korean headquarters. These include, for example, daily player numbers, what players spend most of their time on ingame, and the feedback from the forums.

Talking about player numbers: Are you allowed to share any details?

No, that is internal business. We are sadly not allowed to share any of it.

Are you Game Masters part of the Customer Service team or is there really a whole department just for the ticket support?

There is another office which exclusively deals with English tickets. Should they find a ticket written in German, it gets forwarded to Piccolo or me. We do have another German colleague in our office, but they work for Rappelz. But first and foremost, we try for the tickets to be distributed correctly via the ticket system, before we get active and intervene.

You mentioned moving to Dublin just for this job. Working in home office from Germany is not possible at WEBZEN, is it?

Correct. I would like it if there was home office available. It would allow me to travel more, for example. But here at WEBZEN, the usual work day is spent at the office, 40 hours a week, with flex time.

How many days of vacation do you have every year as a Game Master?

We start at 20 vacation days. With every year at WEBZEN, another day gets added. The maximum, however, are 25 days.

Assuming FlyFF and Rappelz would bite the dust; would you still have a future as a Game Master at WEBZEN?

I presume that there is a possibility to change to other games of WEBZEN. When I started at WEBZEN, for example, I was responsible for the German community of ‘Shot Online’. That task has now been taken over by a German colleague at the WEBZEN headquarters. That is how I got sent to the FlyFF and Rappelz team.

Whenever something in FlyFF goes wrong, WEBZEN is being blamed. But are you Game Masters really responsible?

Not really. All updates and events for the game are being sent to us and we test them on our test servers. Sadly, not everything works correctly once it leaves the test servers and goes live. We at WEBZEN do not program anything, either, so we are not able to make adjustments on our own. That always has to be done by the developer – Gala Lab. So when we notice, through your feedback, that something is not working correctly, we always have to contact Gala Lab first and forward it. Then, we, too, have to wait until Gala Lab reacts.

How do you personally view the development of FlyFF?

From a long-term point of view, FlyFF has been developing just fine, if you ask me. The development has receded a bit during the last years, but that is primarily due to the game being so old. I hope that all the mails we have been sending to Gala Lab will yield results soon.

What does the communication between you and Gala Lab look like? Is there something like conference calls?

The most important things are being sent out by us via mail. In addition, there is a Skype chat with a person at Gala Lab; effectively our go-to guy. Due to time zones, that Skype chat is usually only active in the morning. Conference calls with Gala Lab do not happen. But the WEBZEN headquarters in South Korea are also in contact with them. That way, we are often able to send our requests directly to our headquarters, so that they can communicate them with Gala Lab.

Are there any contractual penalties for Gala Lab should things not go as planned or bugs never be fixed?

I don’t know the contracts. I won’t be able to say anything about them.

Do you actively invest in marketing to gain new players or are you more focussed on keeping the already established playerbase?

We have our own marketing team in Korea. For us as Community Managers, our main goal is to entertain you and thereby keep the existing playerbase happy. We don’t really have anything to do with marketing. We sometimes try to start campaigns via Facebook. But even those have to be signed off by our Korean headquarters.

Are there any plans for class balancing or their equipment?

We have often sent requests to Gala and asked them to think about it. A class balancing would be desirable from our point of view. As far as I know, Gala is shying away from the topic though. Balancing is always a difficult task in MMOs. If one class is being buffed, the other classes will feel disadvantaged. Nerfing a class is almost forbidden; the outcry from the community is usually more than huge. I can relate to Gala not wanting to touch this particular topic at the moment.

Is a graphical upgrade for FlyFF on the horizon?

The existing textures will probably not be touched anymore. Should new stuff be added in the future, things are looking positive for them using more up-to-date assets. A complete overhaul of the existing graphics and textures will not be happening with a 99% likelihood.

The Filipino version of FlyFF had a FWC Tournament in the recent past. Is there a possibility that the FlyFF World Championships are coming back to our servers as well?

I had to ask Piccolo for this question, since I am not familiar with the FWC. He told me that no plans for an FWC are currently existant. It appears to have been a one-off event. Should the community show enough enthusiam, it might be considered. I myself sadly do not know what would need to be done in order for this to happen, or how much trouble it would be.

Now for the burning question of us players: is there any hope for a true content update for FlyFF?

It may sound silly, but I think not. We bring this up with Gala Lab time and time again, but we have never received any positive feedback concerning this topic. Should that change, we will let you players know.

What about a revamp of already exisiting features? The beginner box, for example, includes a Traseia Ticket, which is of no use to a beginner. Or the Penya limitation in the auction house.

Reworking smaller features may be a possibility. I’m not sure how much trouble reworking the auction house would be, though. I could write these things down and forward them, though.

A very big problem in FlyFF is duping. Are WEBZEN and Gala Lab aware of this problem? Are there any solutions being worked on that surpass deactivating the deletion function for characters?

Here at WEBZEN, we are definitely aware of this problem. Gala Lab is aware of it as well. Sadly, no fruitful advances are being made. Therefore, they can’t help us to gain the upper hand with this problem. That is certainly sad, but no positive feedback from Gala Lab has reached us as of yet.

Duping Perin in particular led to a massive inflation in FlyFF, which scares off both new and returning players. Are there any plans for counteracting this inflation? For example an NPC sells certain items for a huge amount of Penya?

Yes and no. We would very much like to contain or reverse the inflation as a whole, but implementing something like this is extremely difficult. For example, planting an NPC who sells items for an extreme price means putting items on offer which the community deems as valuable. That would boil down to Cash Shop items. That is something we cannot justify with the WEBZEN headquarters. Furthermore, the duping issue would have to be solved first, before any thoughts can be spared on how to remove the duped money from the system.

Another huge topic stirring inside the community are the Lord EXP events, which always rely on a single player. Could an NPC be placed which allows players to make donations and is then able to start a Lord EXP event once the required amount has been reached? Or giving out Lord Buffs in exchange for Penya? That way, you could kill two birds with one stone.

Principally, this is a good idea. I’ve noted it down. But the duping works against such an idea and such a system could be abused to start EXP events 24/7 while the necessary Perin are meanwhile being duped again.

Can players forward more constructive feedback on the Discord servers to you? Can you still be messaged privately, even without being on your friendlist?

That is definitely possible. My PMs are basically always open, even if you just want to say hello. I’ll be accepting both positive and negative feedback.

What were the thoughts behind the Mars Mine rework? Why was a beginner area chosen to be filled with monsters for the high-end level range? Can we possibly look forward to a new Premium Area for the current max-level range?

We have asked ourselves this question as well and we honestly don’t know. This decision was made by Gala Lab. It may be possible that Gala Lab has plans for another Premium Area in this level range, but we know nothing of it.

Some players of the US Version have told me that dupers are preferredly buying the Middle Guild Houses with duped Perins, only to then sell them to other players for real money. Are you aware of anything concerning this matter? Are there any methods to counteract it?

I knew nothing of this up until now. We could essentially check up on this. Using our tools, we can determine how guilds are armed and who is a member. In general, we have already asked Gala Lab to provide more Guild Houses. Sadly, no positive feedback came back in this case, either. So I – as so often – sadly cannot share anything specific.

Could the number of participants for the Guild Siege be raised or could it be taking place more than once a week, even?

A raise in the number of participants has been asked for of Gala Lab. We have gotten the feedback, however, that they would have to revamp the Guild Siege system as a whole. That would be a massive undertaking for them. But if the players show enough interest, we may be able to annoy the developers a bit more concerning this topic.

How exactly can a huge amount of interest be shown to you?

I usually monitor how players talk about such topics on the forums or the Discord servers, for example. I try to follow the discussions of the players and find out how they end, meaning how many players vote for and against new ideas. Other than that, feedback can generally be posted on the forums or be sent to me directly. We usually don’t do surveys. Should such a survey be clear in its results, it usually leads to certain expectations among the players. But in the end, we have no say on whether the result of a survey can actually be implemented, since it all depends on Gala Lab.

Are you content with the execution and the results of the server merge? Or are there some things you imagined differently?

Piccolo told me that he is very happy with how things turned out. I only marginally took note of it, since I was new to the team at the time. But fundamentally, everything seems to have worked out just fine, so there is nothing I could criticize.

In light of the server merge, what is your stance on the number of available channels per server? Especially considering that one of the four channels is a PK channel, which effectively reduces channels for active levelling in the Mars Mines to 3.

I’ll just take a quick look at my notes to see whether Piccolo noted down anything on the matter… but I can’t seem to find anything. I can understand the concern of there possibly not being enough levelling spots. But I don’t think more channels would compensate these problems. Adding more channels could impact playing together more negatively than maybe killing only one mob per spawn.

Another huge problem are the bot users and AFK farmers. How should we report such players and what are players allowed to do against them?

The best way to go is to record a video in which you adress a bot user specifically and wait for a reaction. This video can be uploaded to YouTube, for example, and the video link can then be sent to Customer Support via Ticket. You are best off not listing the video, so that only people with the corresponding link have access to it. And, of course, name the server, channel, date and time in your ticket. Then, we can investigate and ban the player. We usually start small. So if the person has not been conspicuous as of yet, the first ban is usually between three and seven days long. Should that person repeat their mistakes, it can lead up to a permanent ban for them.

Is that an IP ban or just an account ban?

It is “sadly” only an account ban.

Many players miss the old times, in which the Game Masters were found ingame more often and started invasions or Hide & Seek events of their own accord. What are the chances for this to happen nowadays?

We would love to do such things more often. I think ingame events at which a Game Master himself is present are the most fun ones, especially for us as well. The problem is our available time. We usually cannot gauge when we would have enough time to be present for 2-3 hours ingame and host an invasion or similar events. We don’t want to announce something like that too last minute, either, since many players would probably not take notice and be unable to participate. For example, if we were to realize that, around 4 p.m., everything for the day has been done and as such, an hour was left theoretically, we could not start something spontaneously, since it would have to be announced first.

Are there possibilites for YouTubers / Livestreamers – who regularly produce content or host community events themselves – to be sponsored with prices, supporting them this way?

Nothing is planned in that direction. I myself usually love to support such things. If we do want to endorse someone, we would always have to talk about it with the WEBZEN HQ in Korea first. If there is any interest in such a way of support, we could surely bring it up. I’m certainly not against it.

Client crashes and Ghost DCs are a huge nuisance for the players. Do you know if Gala Lab is working on such stability problems or is there no feedback present for this issue, either?

We have forwarded this as well. Luckily, this is in WEBZEN’s hand. As such, we know that things are actually being worked on.

There were once announcements for ‘F2 – Floating Fortress’. It was said that it was to be a sequel to FlyFF. Do you have any information as to why this project was cancelled?

It was apparently really planned as a sequel, but we sadly do not know why the project has been scrubbed, either.

Not long ago, a server in the Filpino version based on an earlier version of FlyFF was started, and many of the current features have not even been implemented there yet. It is effectively a sort of ‘FlyFF Classic’ version. Are there any plans or possibilites to bring something like this to our versions as well?

Piccolo told me that there were discussions with Gala Lab about the possibility of opening a ‘FlyFF Classic’ server. They have denied it though. As it happens, some of the data from the old FlyFF versions seems to have been lost.

Our opinion on the statements by FlyFF GM Rakai

Essentially, we did not hope for much with this interview. One usually does not learn anything new. Maybe a few details about the Game Master’s history, the basic structure of a work day, or just very general things. The juicy questions concerning the future of the game usually remain unanswered. For the most part, the interview went just as expected. One of his statements has literally knocked our socks off, though.

No more content updates for FlyFF

Pwnance asks a question which is sure to be burning in the community’s collective mind: Will there be further content updates for FlyFF?

We awaited a rather airy response to this question; something among the lines of: ‘We do not have any information on this topic at the moment’. This is neither a clear yes nor a clear no, and everything is being kept open for possible future developments. Here, Rakai took the cake, though, and said that he does not believe that Gala will be tackling another huge content update.

Holy… fucking… crap…
Viewed from a realistic and economic point of view, the thought is not far off. We, too, think it unlikely that Gala Lab will undergo such a task. With Rakai’s statement, however, there is two things we see rather critically.

  1. We do not believe that it is in the best interest of a publisher if an official Game Master ‘demotivates’ the community (and inherently potential customers) with such a statement.
  2. His statement is pure speculation. He said that, as of now, there was ‘no positive feedback’ from Gala Lab concerning another content update. However, no negative feedback seems to have been given, either. Let us think back a few years. There was a pause of four years in which no new content expansions were published. Then, when nobody reckoned it would happen anymore, Gala Lab arrived with the ‘Turning Point’ updates in tow.

From our point of view, his statement was rash and inappropriate, since he himself has no way of knowing. Even if the chances for a bigger content update are rather slim from an economic point of view, we have already been proven wrong by Gala Lab once before. As such, we remain sceptical.

Unfair treatment of the community

Last but not least, we would like to get back to why we were surprised by Rakai accepting the interview. By way of precaution, we would like to make it clear that we absolutely do not begrudge Pwnance for this interview. Our criticism is not meant to be aimed at him.

Just a few months prior to Pwnance, another German YouTuber and Livestreamer had asked WEBZEN for an interview. He received a positive answer as well, but not for an interview in audio format. ‘That would not be possible’ is what Spielestyler has been told. Instead, he was sent pretty lukewarm answers to his written questions via ticket.

Only a few months later, Pwnance asked for his interview to be conducted in an audio format and immediately received a positive response. From our point of view, this is a huge blow in the face for Spielestyler. This has absolutely nothing to do with a fair and equal treatment of the community.

How did you like the interview between Pwnance and Rakai? Were there any new tidbits you found out? What is your take on the statement concerning content updates? But, more importantly… how do the Cardpuppets procreate if there is only female specimen around? Be sure to leave us a comment!