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Questions by Stacy "Martuk" Jones, AoC Ten Ton Hammer Site Lead
Answers by Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures' Glen "Famine" Swan, US Community Manager
Glen "Famine" Swan serves as the middleman for communication between developers and the community. In such a position he is often the first to incur the wrath of the community should they ever become angered over changes or other game related issues. This week Ten Ton Hammer gets to know the face of the Official AoC representative and find out a little bit about his roots in the gaming industry.
Ten Ton Hammer: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the Gaming Industry?
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Glen "Famine" Swan is a conduit for communication between developers and the gaming community.
Glen: I wont bore everyone too much here but I am a very hardcore online PC gamer and wannabe guitarist. I played lead guitar and toured with a band in my teenage years before really getting serious with a career in gaming. Im also a very hardcore MMOGER and MUDDER (multi-user dungeon) of all things player-versus-player (PVP). I have played MUDs for 12 years and MMOGs for 7 years now. So you can say I am a very hardcore nerd when it comes to online gaming and especially when it comes to old school genres of pkilling (player killing is term we used back then).
I got my start in the industry as QA with Funcom for Dreamfall. I eventually moved into the community team under the management of Craig Morrison (current game director for Age of Conan) with Anarchy Online. A year after that I moved up in ranks to become the US Community Manager for Age of Conan and Anarchy Online. Im currently going on my 3 year mark in the gaming industry and I love every minute of it!
Ten Ton Hammer: How did you become a Community Manager for Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures?
Glen: Lots of hard work! I served as Community Coordinator for about 2 years before I made my way into more of a management role. It was a long road compared to others who normally just break into a management position from the start but I feel the road taken was the best one because I got to learn a lot from some really good people like Craig Silirrion Morrison, Jørgen Tharaldsen, and Oliver Tarib Kunz.
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The job of Community Manager extends beyond being just a forum monkey.
As a Community Manager myself I know there is a bit more to the job than just posting on the forums. Can you tell us what some of your day to day duties involve as a CM for AoC?
Glen: Well it should be no surprise that we are more than just forum monkeys when it comes to our positions within the studio. Mostly we compile feedback reports based on the players, discuss top concerns with the developers, maintain the community portals, and convey information between the gaming portals. Its hard to explain everything we do as we do so much between customer service and community relations but we sure have fun while doing it.
Ten Ton Hammer: What is a typical workday in the life of Famine like?
Glen: For me it depends on the communities feeling at the time. If everything is well, I normally read the top threads of the day, and become buried in the emails from the previous day. I pick myself up around noon and check with QA to see how the current update is going then convey it to the rest of the community team. The rest of the day is a variation of updating the community portal, posting, reading, compiling, and just being a data mole for all the teams.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are you still involved with the AoC Volunteer Moderation Program?
Glen: Yes of course! The volunteer moderation program is developed and maintained by the entire community team. My part in this is only for the specific volunteers that deal with the US region where the other community managers do the same for their assigned regions. Overall, I help maintain the US guys with recruitment, requests, and other assorted needs the program or players might desire.
Ten Ton Hammer: What do you look for in potential volunteer moderators?
Glen: Well the first thing is community involvement. We have volunteer moderators to give the players the opportunity to help and build the community that they support. The second thing would have to be a great attitude thats outgoing to everyone. Moderators are essentially looked at as enemies to the players and we try to recruit volunteers who want to show something better than just being the policemen of the forums. Lastly we look for experience with anything dealing with community, moderation and online gaming. It always helps to recruit volunteers who love gaming and community as a whole.
Ten Ton Hammer: How have things been post launch given the sometimes hostile tone of the community that is often directed at you since you serve as the middleman between the community and the developers on the AoC US forums?
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Famine also handles reports and customer service.
Glen: <insert mafia voice here> Well I am the front man for most of the hostility and its the path I have chosen. I am well aware of the aspects of the position and well prepared to handle anything thrown my way </end mafia voice here>.
Honestly, things have been bumpy since launch and I think its logical to say that some things did not go according to plan but when do they ever? Im sure someone can point out some good examples on where things did not go according to plan with other games but that doesnt mean we should use it as justification. Thus we have seen the ups or downs post launch and I really think we have learned from both sides of the fence to really put us in the good direction we see ourselves today. Launch is always hard for anyone and its just a matter of how we learn from our mistakes and even our successes to better the overall quality of game. I feel we have improved on learning from those aspects a lot since launch and we will continue to do so.
In that, my opinion is only a reflection of the player base to influence the developers on putting us in a direction that overall represents everyone the best it can. Like almost all other MMO communities on launch, we have also seen our share of bumpy roads within our own community but we have really stepped up on improving as many things as we can. It will again only continue to improve from here on in and I think more and more players are starting to see that from the recent developer updates.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you have anything else you would like to say to the AoC Community?
Glen: Well I wanted to thank everyone who has been a part of the Age of Conan community. Launch of a major game such as an MMOG is not always the smoothest of rides and I know there is still a good ways to go but we are getting there. Im happy to see a lot of the recent updates and peeks into the future updates have illustrated such positive feedback but we will not let it derail us from the present concerns on the current game play. We will still work on developing more communication channels, resolving those key issues, and acknowledging top concerns.
Speaking on community, we recently deployed the latest update which contained a lot of changes like the introduction of the Notoriety System, revamp of The Cistern dungeon, trade-skill changes, and combat update. This is a very big update and I can already see that we have a lot of great constructive input on the current changes. I want to ensure everyone that we are keeping an eye out on how the update is received and that we will be active on the forums to help convey any additional input from the developers on the recent changes.
Ten Ton Hammer would like to thank US Community Manager Glen "Famine" Swan for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and we wish Famine and Yakomo the best as they continue to serve the AoC community.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Age of Conan: Unchained Game Page.