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DarkMatters Presents - Interview with Carolyn Hacker

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Carolyn Hacker is the Ascaron Community Manager for the Sacred International Forum. Her work as manager is one that has kept her busy with numerous elements regarding the release of Sacred 2. While being one of Ascaron's representatives at Gaming Conventions in North America, she also moderates the English Sacred Forum, as well as Ascaron's newly launched community over at Team XBOX. Of course Carolyn is a member of DarkMatters as well :o. I'd like to thank Carolyn for her time and efforts both here and with her other responsibilities, and for taking the time to answer some interview questions. Thanks Carolyn!

 

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Can you give us a brief bio?

 

I have a degree in computer science and worked as a programmer on various business applications for almost 20 years. I left programming behind at this point, and have been working in my current position since 2006.

 

What do you do to relax and unwind?

 

Mostly read and play games, although when the weather permits I also enjoy a lot of outdoor activities.

 

What do you drive?

 

I drive a compact car. There's very little public transportation where I live, and it's not an extremely large town with everything close together within walking distance, so some sort of motor vehicle is necessary.

 

What are your favorite books? Movies? Music? Games? Foods? Beverages?

 

Wow, you sure can pack a lot into one question! I love to read, so if I'm lacking material will read almost anything including the ingredient panel on cereal boxes, but in general my preferences are books on history, mysteries and the fantasy end of the science fiction genre. My favorite movie is Casablanca, and I'm a big fan of the early to mid 1900's slapstick comedies. I like most kinds of music, especially that of a band called They Might Be Giants. It will probably come as no surprise that my favorite game is Sacred. There's not much I don't like in terms of foods and beverages, but shellfish has a special place in my taste buds and I'm trying to cut down on the amount of coffee I drink and increase the amount of plain old water.

 

What is your educational background?

 

I have an associates degree in computer science. I'd planned to continue my education, and would still like to, but at the time I landed my first programming job shortly before I graduated and was working so much I couldn't continue after graduation. Life is still keeping me pretty busy, but hopefully one day I'll get back to it.

 

Besides being the International Community Manager for Ascaron, is there another job in your life, something else besides the busy forums and trips to gaming conventions?

 

There is some additional work I do with Ascaron for Sacred 2. I can't say too much about it, but it involves a lot of the game text and dialogs. It's very exciting to be able to see it this early! Since I live in an area with high tourism and summer is coming, I'll probably also pick up another part-time job soon to store away some money for the lean winter months.

 

I should clarify a couple points regarding this question though. We've recently expanded our community management team, and with the huge potential English market I'm now focusing almost exclusively on the English community rather than all the non-German communities. Community management also involves quite a bit more than the forums and gaming conventions. Most of the “invisible” activities involve working with the rest of the community management team, marketing and public relations personnel on various issues and ideas.

 

Can you describe your normal work day?

 

Not really. It always begins and ends the same way, I start by checking to see if any urgent issues came up overnight that need to be taken care of right away and I finish by writing up a report for the other community managers and other management. The rest of the time varies widely, depending on the needs of the community and any scheduled events or activities. It's very nice because it's never the same old boring routine, and allows maximum flexibility for attending to the needs of the community.

 

What do you consider your greatest success? Any failures you want to tell us about?

 

I am most proud of the progress I've been able to make in terms of getting information released simultaneously for all communities. The coordination and cooperation among the community management team, marketing and public relations groups have made cases of one community getting information long before the others very rare.

 

Maybe I should ask you to tell me about my failures (Privately - I hate public humiliation!), since it's so hard to see myself objectively. I feel most like a failure in the very rare cases where I actually have to ban a community member for issues other than spam or warez. Even though I logically know that you can't please everyone, or make them understand why things need to be the way they are, I still feel bad when I can't turn them around.

 

Which online communities do you enjoy as a member?

 

Any and all that have a large percentage of Sacred players. There is something very special about Sacred players that makes them very enjoyable to interact with online (and offline for that matter, although the number of community members I've been able to meet in person has been limited it was very enjoyable). I don't know if it's the diverse geographic locations, diverse ages or a combination of them, but I've been spoiled by Sacred players so other communities pale for me in comparison.

 

How would you describe your moderation style?

 

I try to be very nice, informative and firm when necessary. I won't argue an issue or patiently take verbal abuse indefinitely, but I have found that if people understand the reason why something is an issue they'll usually accept it. The trick in many cases is giving them an initial opportunity to vent their frustration, as they'll then usually be able to discuss the issue rationally.

 

How did you get into game moderation and community management for video games?

 

I was very very lucky to be known by many Ascaron staffmembers at a time when they needed someone for the job, so they offered it to me. I'd been a mod and admin off and on for a long time prior to this point, so they knew my abilities and liked them enough to consider me. I sometimes joke about it being the longest job interview ever.

 

What advice can you give for others who want to become moderators or game admins for busy forums like the SIF?

 

Be kind to community members, be as helpful as possible about answering questions and obey the rules.

 

What was the first video game you played...was it then that the bug bit you and you knew you were a hooked gamer?

 

Ah, here's where I show my age. I can still remember literally vibrating with excitement the day my Dad brought the original “Pong” home and I was waiting for him to finish connecting it to the TV. I wasn't hooked at that point, as I was still in my early teens and my parents limited my game time. The bug bit hard in my late teens though, after I left home and got an original Atari home console. Oh how I longed for the day when the pictures in the game actually looked like the pictures on the covers of the boxes!

 

As you've mentioned, you've already had hands-on with Sacred 2... which part of the game do you like the best?

 

I can't really pick any single part yet. There's so much in it and so much new world to explore and check out that I still find myself doing a lot of bouncing around just seeing what's there rather than focusing on any specific aspect.

 

And which part of the game do you think the community will get the biggest surprise from?

 

Probably the easter eggs, since that's the nature of them. The other big thing that I think will surprise a lot of people is the effect of the switch to 3D. I've been horribly disappointed many times in the past when sequels have made this switch from the original game, but in Sacred 2 the developers have successfully managed to implement it in a way that enhances the playing experience with no negative side effects.

 

What about the "depth' of the Sacred 2 storyline, how does it grab you as compared to the first one from Sacred?

 

I'll be honest, when I heard the original tidbits of information talking about some mysterious thing called T-Energy I was a bit worried. Now that I've seen the details, I think it works very well with the world, classes and spirit of the Sacred series. When I started reading it I was riveted and couldn't put it down until I'd finished it. The choice of paths and how they play out makes running the campaign at least twice a must for me.

 

Can you tell us which of the six characters you think you're going to play first?

 

I'll start by playing the High Elf through both paths, then work through the other classes before settling into one main class to focus on and start experimenting with character builds.

 

How do you feel about Ascaron's huge devotion to providing both a top-notch single-player game as well as an exciting and compelling online experience... most games would only focus on one.

 

Wonderful! One of the things I liked most about the original game was how much choice the player has, and this particular choice is very important to me personally. Some people won't consider MP, others won't play SP and there are players like me who enjoy an even mix of both. Not only does the ability to choose enhance the player's enjoyment, but the added diversity enhances the community.

 

Does the video game business surprise you with how big it's become?

 

No, not at all. The success of the early home consoles and increase in use and capabilities of home computers made it inevitable.

 

How important do you think a community is these days to a game?

 

Community is incredibly important to a game, and I'm very happy to see that many companies are starting to realize this. A strong and thriving community is a great source of support for players, and word of mouth advertising is a very powerful tool. In addition, when you find a really good game, it's nice to be able to talk about your experiences with people who are familiar with it, instead of getting a blank glassy-eyed stare from your friends who don't play it.

 

How do you see games in general changing over the next five to ten years?

 

Based on some of the things I saw at the last 2 GDCs, I expect a lot of changes to hardware controls. Things like force feedback console controllers, but more elaborate forms such as a vest or overall so when someone in a game punches you in the arm you actually feel something in your arm. There was something at this year's conference that seemed to be some sort of device you wore on your head, that would actually allow you to control the game. Mmmmmmmmm, brain controlled gaming! I'm also hoping we see some big strides in the virtual reality area, I think we'll get there one day but I don't know if it will be in the next 5-10 years.

 

What does the future hold for Carolyn Hacker?

 

I have no idea, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

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Fantastic Interview!

 

Shame on you gogo. Sneaking in a bunch of questions into a single one, lol. :whip: Very nice answers from Carolyn. I was very much intrigued and felt a great need to read read read!

 

I think the part that got me most excited was when I read Carolyn's answer; "Probably the easter eggs." Yes! That's exactly what I want. Lots and lots of easter eggs. :3lmao:

 

 

Great stuff!

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Riveting reading. Great interview gogo. :whip:

 

The quote I liked best was just after the one you mentioned Schot

The other big thing that I think will surprise a lot of people is the effect of the switch to 3D. I've been horribly disappointed many times in the past when sequels have made this switch from the original game, but in Sacred 2 the developers have successfully managed to implement it in a way that enhances the playing experience with no negative side effects.

 

This is exactly how I feel about 2D games that have gone 3D and it seems that Sacred has addressed this. Very happy to hear :3lmao:

 

stubbs

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I'd like to once again thank Carolyn for the time she gave us for the interview. Many of us here have known her now for years, whether on the servers or in the forum. The depth with which the questions were answered delighted and gave me a good understanding of the reasons why she was chosen as English Community Manager. With two forums now to watch over, her duties increased, she has once again made it clear to us that her interest in and support for our community is and has always been a priority.

 

A great job she is doing, and looking forward to her helping bring in Sacred 2

 

:3lmao:

 

gogo

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Our SIF manager of old who heralded in Sacred 2 has moved on to greener pastures. My best wishes to your success Carolyn, don't forget to come on by again sometime to wish the gang some hi's.

 

:)

 

gogo

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