August 21st, 2017
Unfortunately I am not on my PC, but because today is the update, so I decided to publish this without the usual artwork.
I want to thank Chervey aka Alexander Drusakov for this very different interview.
Andrea: I've thrown my question list into garbage because we know you're Chervey, Alexander in RL and you're community manager in Zepto and thus the most likely you can’t beat a double platform base, because players usually more skilled than devs. Are these statements correct?
Chervey: Well, not quite 😉 I can’t and never could flawless double platform bases, however one is currently saved in my dungeon. So anyone is welcome to try finishing it.
Andrea: Let's suppose we know everything about your duties including dressing up as Meleena on holidays and get right to the business. Tell me please what you think, what's the most useless feature in KoT and why it still exists in the game?
Chervey: Nice one, Andrea! There’re some features I would call with that word, but it’s a closed info. So I will share you my own opinion about the topic. Let’s suppose that the most useless thing in the game is a best gem pick chance. And luckily we’re currently trying to figure something out with it. The second pointless thing as I see it is... saw jumps. They destroy the game because their trajectory obviously... is not obvious at all. This is a subproduct of flaws in physics in the game engine.
Andrea: Let's be honest, the upgrade of the throne system sucks. Zeptolab keeps saying that it has actually become cheaper to upgrade to FS15 than it was to upgrade to FS5 before the update. But where it took 34 mushrooms and 34 eyes to upgrade to FS5, it takes about 3 times as much now to reach the same level. How would you comment this?
Chervey: Did you use word “Honest”? 😂 Zeptolab has never said it's cheaper to get to FS15 than it was to get to FS5. Since I communicate with people, I can say it for sure. If you dig a bit, you'll find not a single word about that. The truth is a blade with two sharp edges: your side, my side and the truth in between. Old FS2 with 160 hp and triple 40% cost 110 mushrooms and 66 eyes if players upgraded thrones one after another. And you’ll be surprised that vast majority did exactly like that. When you get FS1 nowadays you spend 62 mushrooms and 20 eyes and get 230 hp, 55% to gold, 45% to steal and 35% to best gem pick. In the end you sit on a way more powerful throne which is easier to get while thrones on the way are useful. Since only 1% of players ever make it to FS thrones. In the end newbies are more viable. Vets have got their FS maxed. Looks like a fair deal, right?
Andrea: Still lots of players were really ticked off about that, and it makes it much harder for new players to be able to compete once the reach level 51+.
Chervey: I think guys with multiple accounts that are fond of camping and Arena farming suffer the most. Some honest thieves are pissed off too, of course, and it makes me feel bad.
Andrea: So… May we expect any positive changes in this issue because of your bad feeling?
Chervey: There is a probability that we’ll shrink their burden in future by lowering FS prices. Stiv and me are on the same page with you, that’s why current prices is the result of other numbers that were cut in twice with a lot of blood, tears and sweat shed by us before the “throne update” was launched. No promises though 😉
Andrea: You said before in public that retrieve chances need some love and told us that you’re on the same page with us. Still I read the same requests in comments and even in interviews I take: demand for higher retrieve chances. At the same time you wrote a in a recent post in Community Chat that ER requests cannot be posted there. But with the retrieve changes as low as they are now, you are driving players to such measures. Is Zeptolab planning on making changes in regards of the retrieve chances like these players are asking for or we will stay on the same page forever?
Chervey: Let’s be honest ©, when you’ve got 500 friends or more, chances to lose gems due to lack of retrieves are extremely low. They’re high when we take one player. People tend to measure things with personal experience, not statistics. Do you really think that almost 100% chance to get any gem back is worth of saying things like “chances are as low as they are now”? 😏 So ER requests change nothing except one thing: they spoil newsfeeds and prevent people from posting other stuff. On the other side, players that are not involved in our community may lose gems. For the, retrieve chances are low, it’s true. Personally I think that it needs some zeptolove. I hope for the best and there are some concepts in work that may see the light later this year.
Andrea: I think it's great that you are giving me a chance to ask you some tough questions and speak about love in return. It’s really touching. So I’d like to expand this topic if you don’t mind. I keep reading that Zedoop and EvilDracur are supposedly cheaters and hackers, and only haven't been banned because Zepto loves them and they’re welcome in Zepto offices. How do you respond to these allegations?
Chervey: I won't respond this time because of several reasons: 1) we ban cheaters and all experienced players know that well; 2) people tend to ignore facts and like to accuse top(1-3) players in cheating or/and buying a developer... just like in every other massive multiplayer online games; 3) we love every player unconditionally and deeply 😂 even if it’s unrequited feeling. Until one is a cheater, of course 😏 We really hate banning and warn thieves against using malware, however many just don’t listen and get to the “end-game” content quite fast.
Andrea: Oh, since you’ve mentioned listening skills… I have been going over my interviews again and again and some known guys complain that Zeptolab simply does not listen to the community, that you don't really care about the players. What do you think about this?
Chervey: Excuse me?
Chervey: Ok, jokes aside 😂 When a company wants to make its game playable it has no choice but to listen what players say. Zepto is not exclusion. We listen and hear. Problems pop up during implementation stages and when players see new features. The first and main reason of this illusion of miscommunication is idea that developers should inevitably include things asked by players. If it’s done blindly, any game is doomed. Players’ minds are broken to pieces by inner conflicts: they desire for more rewards, more advantages, getting resources easier and more effective things for domination, but from the other side they bored when they have no challenge. Only some of them are aware of this conflict inside and can take it into consideration when they propose feature ideas. So when we hear requests and feedback we try to understand what’s the reason of it. Sometimes it’s easy to spot, sometimes not. And then we have to balance complicated system before make changes in it. Game development is a science. And Zeptolab works hard to make it a science of fun 😀
Andrea: Science of fun? I guess this is the science my son also would like to learn, since he wants to become a game developer. I am sure you didn't finish school saying "Hey, I am going to work for an online game company". So, how did you come to work for Zeptolab?
Chervey: When I studied in school, amounts game developers in Russia were next to zero. And that’s from the side of negative numbers 😂 Meanwhile epic titles boomed both my mind and the world outside. They were made in other countries for PC and consoles, there were no smartphones on the market 😂 So when I finished school in 1999 I was kind of realistic and dreamed to write about that games in magazines for gamers, as my close friend did by the way. I haven’t thought that I will ever become a part of any game dev team. I couldn’t imagine that Russian game development industry may produce epic games, because there was no such industry in the country. In 2002 I’ve started to play a browser online game and that changed my point of view drastically. I realised that online gaming andgame communities is a whole different story. People are interested about things that happen inside of a game they love and live in way more than in general news about game industry and game reviews. I think the same way and I’m more interested in what’s going on in KoT than in knowing what games are going to be released next year somewhere in the world. So I played that game for 5 years quite a lot. I was a student and had time to spare for the game. Playing meant for me taking part in bloody forum wars, writing articles, launch PR and black PR campaigns to lure strong players to our top clan and demotivate rival top players and clans 😏 Time passed and in 2006 I got an offer from a Russian game dev team, now it’s a part of the largest IT company in Russia. I meant to do the same I did while “playing”, but for another browser MMO game, not a single clan. I had to lure the core community from the game we loved and make them comfortable in a new better world 😀
Andrea: You can’t just stop mentioning love in your answers, can you? 😀
Chervey: There’s only one way to join the game dev sect — is to love games and to do something related that you really love to do. I love to meet people, to understand their problems and to help solving them. On the other side I like to shape MMO game universes. I fond of helping players to feel magic of game development, this is my role and duty. There is no features in KoT I pushed myself, we did it together. Every update is player driven, some less, some more. So If you like coding, drawing, writing, making a game design or playing games then just do it, and sooner or later you’ll find yourself surrounded by weird cool people that share your passion and you will start to affect the development process.
Andrea: Being surrounded by cool people is a good thing, until they’re alive and it’s not a zombie apocalypse outside the window. One way or another you’re still breathing.. or typing at least 😂 So could you tell us how do you usually get through the average workday and what it looks like?
Chervey: There is a saying. Working in game development on the frontline with the community is like riding a motorcycle… that is on fire and you’re burning and everything is burning and you’re in hell 😂 Oh hell, I really love motorbikes!
Andrea: You know, we’ve made it to the last question, please excuse me because it may appear blunt and even a bit offensive. However I have to ask it because it has a great potential to make the world a better place. So what do you think about pineapple on pizza and what is your favourite pizza topping?
Chervey: Oh, you’ve got to the point at last! Chalapeno pepper and double cheese never spoil a pizza. Even if it’s made with pineapple, because in this case it’s already spoiled to the point when making it better is not possible in this universe. But still… it’s better to be with chalapeno and double cheese. Love it!
Andrea: I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to answer some questions and spreading Zeptolove among all of us. 😀