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Article: Interview with Sleepy Giant about Ballerium

By Admin on 2008-02-05 01:35:18
Homepage: www.mmorts.com email:admin at mmorts dot com

Ricardo Mendoza, the Ballerium Live Game Operations Producer at Sleepy Giant has taken a few minutes to answer some of our questions on Ballerium and the recent changes to the operation of the game.

mmorts.com: I have to assume Sleepy Giant isn't the rapper from Little Rock, Arkansas. What did Sleepy Giant do before teaming up with Majorem?

sleepy giant: Sleepy Giant is the only studio focused entirely on live game operations for multiplayer online games. We work with leading publishers and independent developers to manage all service delivery aspects of multiplayer online games. We craft each service delivery plan individually which allows us to cater to the needs of our partners. Through dedication of customer service and with the knowledge of the latest in technology, Sleepy Giant is the leader in live game operations.

mmorts.com: People have been playing Ballerium for a couple years now. What does the new arrangement mean to existing players of Ballerium? And for people that have played Ballerium in the past, should they come back for another look?

sleepy giant: The two major differences they should see is that Majorem will now be freed to focus on the game development. This should mean increased patches and updates. The other difference will be our experience in community building. Players should see an increase of new players joining the Ballerium community. Specifically thanks to sites like yours, they make it much easier for players to find out about independent titles like Ballerium.

Older players should definitely come back, the community is much larger now and there are some interesting battles going on for control of the Ballerium world. Now is as good time as ever to return.

mmorts.com: Now that the game is launched commercially, what benefits do players get if they become subscribers?

sleepy giant: Players receive a variety of benefits both in game and out. Subscribers get access to a special race known as the Kablaz. Subscribers are also the only players that can create a clan, and this game revolves around clan domination. The other main benefit is they gain slightly more Karma allowing them to increase their unit slots quicker than non-subscribers.

We also plan on adding some community features on the web that subscribers will benefit from. We will release more information on that later on when we are closer to completion.

mmorts.com: With Majorem now focused on development of the game, what improvements can players expect to see in the next year?

sleepy giant: We still haven’t received a finalized roadmap for 2008 from Majorem. They are taking all suggestions into consideration and deciding what direction will be the best to take Ballerium. They do read all suggestions posted on the forums, so keep submitting any ideas you may have.

mmorts.com: You updated your hardware, what can you tell us about the hardware and software that runs the Ballerium servers?

sleepy giant: We have a great partner in GNI Games (www.onlinegameservices.com) that has helped us upgrade our infrastructure. We moved the game into a game specific hosting environment running on a cluster of IBM HS20 Blades with Dual Xeon 3.2Ghz, 2048MB/2x 73GB SCSI. That's a lot of horsepower for a game like Ballerium. As you may have noticed, the game client is really small at 120MB but we still take advantage of a global content distribution network. As a side note, we'll be making our simple CDN web service available to others in the near future.

mmorts.com: Making an MMO game is a major undertaking, you not only have to make a game, you also have to manage servers, handle billing, support, maintenance, new content and more. What is the biggest lesson you've learned developing an MMO?

sleepy giant: Funny you should ask - we don’t develop them! We really focus on running live game operations. I think game companies are learning that developing a game and running a live web service are two separate businesses. It might be why you see so many unhappy gamers. Many early game companies were forced to do both, but I think you will see more game companies decide to work with partners that specialize in live game operations (we hope anyway!!)

mmorts.com: All developers read the forum posts. What is your favourite thing someone has written about the game?

sleepy giant: Developers don’t always get to spend as much time on the forums as they would like. That is why they would work with us. Managing a community is definitely a full-time job. When they do get a chance to browse the forums, they like to read the feedback on the game. There are always some great ideas coming from the players, and constructive criticism is always welcomed. The developers as well as the players have the same goal in common, and that is to improve the game and make it more fun.

Currently of the top of my head, I have a really favorite post, but it is not necessarily about the game itself. We have one player who has been having trouble being able to play our game. We went through and tried to resolve the problem, but it seems to be a problem with the user’s computer. The community started trying to help this player, and everyday you’d see someone else offering a suggestion, until finally after a week or so of trying, the player was able to connect. It is really great to see the community come together and help out new players like this.

mmorts.com: What's the deal with your website www.sleepygiant.com?

sleepy giant: We like our security eye. We firmly believe in talking about accomplishments and not just intentions. Maybe we just didn’t have anything that interesting to say until now. We'll be releasing a new website pretty soon, but the eye will still have a place.

mmorts.com: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Sign up for a free Ballerium account at www.ballerium.com

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