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Interview with Mythic's Community Manager Tim "Dropixel" Chappel

- - - - - mythic interview

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Calis M^N

Calis M^N

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This interview is one of the ones I was really looking forward to getting out! It meant a lot to me as the role he does is something I would love to do professionally (and lately have had the pleasure of getting a glimpse of what it is like). Tim probably has one of the hardest jobs at Mythic by having to deal with several communities all at once. I am sure the UO community would keep him busy enough without the others! So it was great that he was able to take time out of his day to answer my burning questions!

So from the UO Forums staff I want to say a HUGE thank you to Tim for doing this!

I hope you all enjoy :)

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day consists of me getting up and checking my e-mail, getting ready for work, commuting in horrible DC area traffic and then arriving at work. Once I’m here, I crack open my Monster and start browsing Facebook and Twitter pages for Mythic, UO, War, DAoC, WoH and U4E to see if any trolls have come out from under their bridges. I then start checking fan site forums for each of the games. By this time, I usually have some new requests or posts from the various producers so I get those up or work on some previous website change requests. I also make some time to check what’s going on the in the game community and press. Most days are pretty busy because I work with designers, producers marketing and other business units throughout the day. I then return home and do the same thing I was doing at work. lol

Is your job 24/7?
Absolutely. It wasn’t too tough when I was a member of the community team and we could take turns being on call for emergencies or deployments and focus on individual games, but, now that I am a lone wolf, I don’t get days or hours off. If there are any emergencies in any of our games, I have to be available and have access to a computer in order to inform the players.

Which game do you spend the most time on out of the games you community manage?
Truthfully, I don’t think there is a specific game. Some producers like to keep tight control over what’s posted and send me everything so I don’t have to spend much time on hashing out copy, but they still require my time in understanding the communities emotional state. Other games require me to put together my own copy and solicit approvals for the posts. Each game and team are so unique in their needs, it’s hard to say which one requires the most time overall.

How did you get into Community Management?
I was a CSR (Fiper) for many years and learned the ropes of player communication. I studied many subjects in college like sociology, psychology, communication, etc; however, my main hobby/curse and training has always been art. While working in CS many of those study hours and interests exemplified in my work. The community team at the time needed artistic asset support and they brought me on to assist with WoH art assets and to get to know the communities.

Why do you use the nick name Dropixel?
I am a HUGE PvP gamer. It didn’t use to be that way, but I think my play style changed. I think it was one of my nieces that noticed some of my artwork and when I explained what pixels were she said “you draw pixels?” I heard “drop pixels” and started laughing because my brain made a connection to “dropping fools.” –Don’t ask me. I thought it was a cool play on words and fit me and my play style pretty well so I started using it as a gamer tag and have used it ever since.

Was Community management something you thought you would get into?
Not at all. The closest thing I thought I would get into was website design. I think of community management as drama management sometimes and I was a laid back CA skater who was very anti-drama. I love community management though because it really gives you a sense of the myriad of personalities in gaming. I think my laid back personality also helps me to get along with the community and producers.

So you work for Mythic rather than UO specifically, Is there a big difference between the various game communities that are under Mythic?
Very much so! Some communities are very demanding, some are very analytical and some are very friendly. Every time I make a post or design copy, I have to consider which community I am writing for and how it will be received.

Do you play any of the games you work on?
Yes, I play all of the games. I was a big console gamer and didn’t have much experience in MMOs until I started working at Mythic. I don’t have the time to really develop my characters because I would rather be designing or killing players. Obviously it’s very hard to kill top level players in MMOs unless you put in a large amount of time to obtain high level equipment or abilities. I think that’s why, when I play MMOs, I always have my character slots full with mid to low level characters. I just don’t have the time required to template high level characters to make them viable in PvP. It got really bad in Warhammer. I think I spent a year or so never leaving T1 and had so many characters I filled up all the slots on every server. I think I had about 40 T1 characters at one time.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue a career in Community Management?
Build a tough skin, learn forum and website building software/ languages. Studying sociology, communication and psychology will help as well.

Is it you that controls the Facebook and Twitter for Mythic, SWTOR, UO, DAOC and WAR?
It is. Also WoH and U4E. Posted Image

What has been the best news you have ever given a community?
I’ve only been in community for about a year and a half, but Kai’s wedding was definitely one of the coolest things we announced to the community. That was announced by Kai though, so I’ll have to say the 15th anniversary for UO is something I am truly proud of being a part of.

What has been the hardest message you have had to deliver to a community?
The closing of WoH. L I really loved that game and it fit my schedule perfectly. “I have 20 min to spare? Sweet!” –Hop into Wrath for a quick match. The whole cloud migration was pretty hard as well. -It wasn’t a specific message but the whole process and its toll on the communities is difficult. Though, I am extremely happy that we are making great progress with it and server performance is improving.

What did you do before working for Mythic?
I had many professional jobs around the US, but immediately before working for Mythic I was a manager of a Game Stop in a mall. Retail is a tough industry (just ask anybody who has worked in it through the holidays) but after decided to get into the gaming industry to support my art habits, I had to switch career tracks and start from somewhere.

Do you play on any consoles? If yes which?
I play on Xbox 360 still. I used to play on all the consoles (Dreamcast was my fav.) but ever since I started with mythic my focus transitioned into PC gaming.

If you were not working as Mythic's CM what would you be doing?
I would probably do design in some capacity: sculpting if I could get paid enough to do it. Can I say living on the beach selling sand sculptures? – I did take some professional courses in it. Lol

Are you ever involved with any of the game's development that you are CM for?
Not really. I mean there are some areas that I might jump in and offer the communities opinion to help guide producers and designers but for the most part, no. I would like to say that a few designers let me do art in some of the games and I am very proud of that because I got to check off another of my life long goals.

Do you have a favorite community? (don't answer if you don't want too)
UO of course! j/k No, I don’t have a favorite. Though, I can tell you that while I was a CSR we sometimes fought over who would take the UO tickets because the players were always so respectful, nice and fun to interact with. That could have been because we had jails to put them in though. lol

How easy or difficult is it for you to switch from working with one community to another?
I am finding out how difficult it can be. When I found out I was going to be on my own, I thought it would be easy to hop from one community to another. I have learned and am still learning that this is far from the truth. Though all the communities have similar members, the group think is vastly different. Not only do I have to know what the community prefers, I have to know which emotional state the community is in currently.

If you had any words for the UO Community what would they be?
You guys are amazing! Though you may not realize it, you inspire so many people and have set so many records. I have been watching a lot your fan sites for a long time and still remember opening my first UO game and pulling out the cloth map. I am truly humbled by getting to be a part of such a history rich, industry defining game. Ctrl+b, Rel Por


I hope you all enjoyed reading about what it is like to be a Community Manager and about the guy who helps look after all of us!

Let me leave by just saying, thank you again Tim for taking the time out to answer the questions! It truly means a lot!


Edited by Kayhynn, 02 April 2013 - 05:28 PM.

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]






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