Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Finally! NineMoons family interviews RCM Hrin!

Guess who was here in the Philippines really recently?

Yup, none other than our beloved Regional GE Community Manager Danielle Hrin Kuek! And in addition to her hectic days of meetings with the folks at IP-Interactive and e-Games, a brief appearance at the Dom1nation event, and a quick tour of Fort Santiago in Manila, she was able to squeeze in dinner and an interview with the NineMoons family.

We met up on April 30 at the Recipes by Cafe Metro restaurant, which is located on the second level of Greenbelt 3 in Ayala Center, Makati. Present at the interview were Hrin, her friend Cheryl, Granado Espada Philippines Brand Manager Ivee Feria, me, and my partner.

(FYI: Cheryl is the Community Manager of Hellgate: London, another hotly-anticipated MMORPG that will also be released by IAH Games!)

Even before the interview began, just as we were waiting on our food to arrive, Hrin was asking us for feedback and reactions concerning the CBT experience here in the Philippines, and for some insight into the local community. We told her how much GE was being anticipated around these parts.

Over the meal, we talked about shopping for fruits (Hrin and Cheryl had greatly enjoyed the mangoes - good thing they came here right in the middle of their season!) and other souvenirs (the Singaporean pair had been bargain-hunting in SM Makati, and we suggested they try finding the nearest branch of the Kultura stores), and how the general gaming situation in the Philippines was like - mostly the other MMORPGs that were expected to arrive within the year.

After dinner and dessert, it was time to get down to business, and while yours truly got out her pen and paper, Hrin pulled out her laptop, and my partner grabbed our digital camera, all ready for the showdown.

Interview with Hrin-photo 01

From left to right, that's me, then Hrin, then Cheryl, then Ivee.

Q: Please give us your full name?
A: Danielle Hrin Kuek.

Q: And your current designation?
A: I'm the Community Manager for the Southeast Asian version of Granado Espada, and I work at IAHGames, the operator for the region.

Q: And currently there's just the one of you managing the international community of Granado Espada?
A: Yes, for now, there's just me. But there are plans that there will eventually be a Community Manager for each of the countries in which IAHgames distributes its games.

Q: Okay, I have a question about the Community Service events that you're regularly doing in Singapore: was that something that had previously been done in kGE or in jGE? Or did it start with sGE?
A: Well actually, there is a pretty interesting story behind this. Before coming to work as a Community Manager at IAH I had already been volunteering at Katong Special School for special children in Singapore.

After becoming a CM I began to have less time to help out since the timings they needed volunteers clashed with my work hours, but I really wanted to keep it up since I had grown very attached to those kids.

Then I got a call in March from one of the teachers asking for my help because she was really shorthanded and desperately needed volunteers. I had intended to take leave for that day and then a thought crossed my mind - Since I loved those kids and since I was growing so very attached to the GE community, why not combine those two loves together?

So I sent an email out to my Level 100 bosses proposing this as an official Granado Espada event. Much to my delight, they were extremely supportive of this initiative and even offered a budget for a casual meal with the gamers after the event. That is why I love working for IAHgames. Things here are so dynamic and open to new ideas. Coming to work feels more like my university days where I am hanging out with friends and we are working on projects together. Yes, we work hard but we also joke around and have fun while we are at it.

And no, I am not paid to say all these! LOL. It comes from the heart, really.

The Community Service events have been well-received and we are now looking into doing them on a monthly basis - and quite possibly to widen their scope and scale in the future.

As for having Community Service events in the other countries where IAHgames has a presence, it will be up to the individual Community Managers for each country to decide whether or not they wish to implement it. After all, it is voluntary.

(More details here.)

Q: An MMORPG in the Philippines has a rewards program for students who get high grades in school and also play hard enough to get high levels in the game. They also allow parents to limit their children's game time. Any plans to implement similar programs for GE?
A: We leave such decisions up to our distributors in each country. It will be up to them to propose and to implement such programs, as they will know what is best for their respective cultures.

Q: How is the process of localization for sGE coming along?
A: Well, the localization for the Version 2.0 client is pretty much finished, but a new patch has just come in, and that's about 10,000-12,000 more lines of text to localize right now. Our localization staff are actually doing 12-hour shifts to keep up, and we're very fortunate to have a meticulous and dedicated Localization Manager, DG to keep them going.

For the NPCs in the game the goal of localization is to bring out their personalities in the best way possible. We did a lot of background research such as looking into the history of the era, et cetera - in order to meet that goal.

I've was at some of the voiceover recording sessions at the studio and it's really a lot like directing a play - different ways of saying a line, different emotions. We kept repeating the process with the voice actors and actresses until we obtained the best ‘voice’ that we felt was most appropriate for the background story and personality of the NPC.

Q: What is your take on the strategy adopted by Sword of the New World (announced payment system before calling for Closed Beta testers)? And how different will the contents of GE and SOTNW be?
A: We were trying to get as much feedback and opinions from the GE community as possible during the CBT period before deciding on our business model, which is why we have not released any payment system announcement yet. Currently, we are fine-tuning the final details of our business model and we will announce our decision shortly. Be patient guys!

As to content, for our version of Granado Espada, IAHgames is making a great effort to stay true to the original version of the game designer Kim Hakkyu. It is his dream game after all.

Q: What are the plans for the launch of Granado Espada in Singapore? In the Philippines?
A: In Singapore we'll be holding a MEGA “Granado Espada RAID party” event at Zouk Club on June 16.
During the daytime, there will be events such as PvP duels, where the players choose from a series of pre-made characters and select items from provided sets, and then fight it out; quests brought to life, where people can go to different places within the venue and follow directions at each point to proceed to the next one; as well as both GE and anime cosplay. We are going to have costumes tailored, and we are going to hire models to cosplay those costumes. Oh yes! There are even plans to have some of the monsters from GE custom made for the event.

At night, there will be a dance party, and we're booking famous DJ Marco V. (18th DJ in the world) to spin for us.

Ivee Feria answers:
A: The POBT launch here in the Philippines will be done in line with the Singapore launch; and of course the OBT and commercial launches will have bigger events.

One thing I can tell you now, though, is that we'll be sending Philippine players to Singapore to compete in PvP duels.


Q: During CBT, how many hours did you spend playing GE? And how many hours spent on community concerns?
A: I played much more actively during nights, after work. I have 2 PCs: one for the game, because I was trying to get to level 60 to don on that oh-so-hot Torsche Dress for my elementalist and the oh-even-hotter French Maid costume for my wizard. The other PC was for work.

Hmmmm actually I don’t compartmentalize playing GE and addressing community concerns or work. GE has become more like a lifestyle to me. The community’s concerns are my concerns as well because I am a part of the community. I am more than just a community manager, I am a GE gamer. And I am a GE gamer at heart 24/7, which means I am constantly in touch with members of the community just about every waking moment, whether it is online or in real life. ;)

I'm addicted to both the game and to its community, especially when I'm meeting the players in real life.

Q: What do you do when you feel like you need a break from Granado Espada?
A: I hang out on the forums! Haha… Seriously, though, a balance in life is important, or rather, a balance in worlds is important – That of the balance between the real world and the virtual world. Shopping is my ultimate therapy and hanging out with my friends or the GE gamers is a pleasant distraction.

Q: Are there any plans to implement any of the following: national costumes in the item mall, pet system, guild houses?
A: National costumes - you can probably try making the suggestion in the forums, and if enough people agree with the idea, we can take it to the developers and ask about it.

Pet system - yes, there will be pets in future versions of GE. Development plans are in the making. From what I understand, the pets will be cosmetic only (i.e. no skills to help the player's family).

Instead of guild houses, guilds (termed as ‘faction’ in GE) will battle for control of territories in Colony Wars. If they manage to conquer that territory (map), their faction name will be marked on the world map. Whenever the members of that faction are in that certain map, they will get attack bonuses etc.

I was just chatting with the IMC guys (Hakkyu Kim’s Team) recently and they were telling me that there is a house for the 2 opposing political parties – Royalists and Republicans. Members of each political party can gather in that house.

Q: More of a concern than a question: is anyone planning to do anything about the now-confusing meanings of the word "faction" as it is used in the game? Because in Version 2.0, "faction" can refer to a guild of players, or it can refer to either of the two political groups that players can join, Royalists or Republicans.
A: Oh, the Royalists or Republicans are referred to as political party instead.

Q: During the Closed Beta, what were your favorite quests? And what did you do about the crates in the dungeons - hit them, or avoid them?
A: In terms of the fun that I had while doing them, my favorite quests would be Andre Janzur's, because the funny stuff he says just cracks me up. I also loved Catherine the Summoner's quest, because I found her story to be so hauntingly melancholic, yet beautiful in the same breath. If she had a theme song, I would say it would have to be ‘Aria De Coimbra’ from the GE soundtrack. Both give that same wistful sadness and melancholy to it. The storyline is touching as well. A father’s love for his daughter, which drove him to want to immortalize her forever in the form of a puppet. That intensity, almost to the point of insanity is something I can deeply empathize with. Torsche’s mansion is an intriguing place. YOU HAVE TO EXPLORE IT INSIDE OUT! The aura of that place and the quests in there are all so interesting and intriguing. Dr Torsche FTW! Interview with Hrin-photo 02

From left to right: Cheryl, Hrin, me, and my partner.

Q:What are your favorite foods, drinks, and kinds of music?
A: Hawaiian pizza, orange juice, and primarily hip-hop and R&B. But the kind of music I listen to really depends on my mood.

Q: If Hrin were a cute animal, she would be a:
A: A bunny! I used to keep pet rabbits, but they kept multiplying, and in the end we had to give them all away. Bunnies are still my favorite animal though.

Q: Your mottoes in real life and in Granado Espada:
A: In real life, my favorite quote is:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. - Ambrose Redmoon

(Quote source is here.)

In GE, it's:

Don't just play GE - LIVE GE.

Q: Best memories of the Philippines?
A: Going to Fort Santiago. When I got there I felt like I was looking at a real-life Port of Coimbra.

Also, the good impressions I got from the Filipino GE community. They're all so appreciative and friendly, and geared more towards community than competition. The female gamers are so sweet and polite. They keep calling me “Miss Hrin” even though I told them it was okay to call me “Hrin”. The male gamers are sooooo charming. Gee… some of the things they have “whispered” to me in-game have really made me blush! :p

Q: Favorite player character? (Note: As everyone who answered this question was female, all the answers are male characters.)
A: Musketeer in Striform outfit. That’s hawt.

Ivee answers:
A: Fighter, whatever the armor he's wearing.

NineMoons answers:
A: Wizard in Clara mago outfit.


Anne said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your interview with CM Hrin. Though, I'd love to learn more of who she is apart from her attachment to GE, but nevertheless, great interview! I too have met her personally and she's such a fun, nice person to talk to.

NineMoons Family said...

@ anne

thanks for reading the interview and I'm just as glad that you enjoyed it so much.

"more of who she is"

...the bunnies! the Hawaiian pizza! the boots! ^^ lol


Jac said...

congratulations Nine^^, such a vibrant lively interview that brought smiles and excitement ( even to repeat some lines in epic voice lol), you sure had such a wonderful time and the feelings were indeed transmitted through your words. We can only hope in the far end of the world somehow sometime we can get ourselves a "hrin"? hehe we'll wait to see^^

Cheers // D.Jac // OMG POBT is here!!^^

Anne said...

i'm just as amused that she's a chronic shopaholic as well. hehe.

POBT tomorrow! w00t! what server will you be playing?

NineMoons Family said...

@ Jac

thank you so much for the compliments - look, you're making me blush! ^^

yes, I know, POBT tomorrow and and I can't wait either. I'll be on the Cervantes server if you need me :)

NineMoons Family said...

@ anne

I'll be on Cervantes if you want me. look for me after dinner time as I have appointments tomorrow.

it's NineMoons, of course.

see you tomorrow~ ^^