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Interview with a Dutch HT: HT-Aartspam

Eleven years ago, Dutch Hattrick manager Aartspam (245332) moved to Sweden to make his hobby his work and join the HT-team. As part of a series of staff interviews for the Dutch Hattrick Press, editor rik_daan079 (13289066) sat down together with Aartspam for his second interview in 10 years.




Good to finally hear from you again! The last time you appeared on HT Press was 10 years ago, so it's about time we catch up a bit. :)
First things first, though, for the readers who don't know you; could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Yes, I can! A lot has changed for me over the past 10 years. I became a father to 4 naughty, but very sweet kids. A twin (a boy and a girl) and another boy and girl. Nicely balanced, I'd say. I moved to Brazil with my Brazilian wife and that's where I now hold office and work for Hattrick.

How did you come in contact with Hattrick and what made you decide to eventually move to Sweden and make Hattrick your work?
One of my colleagues from back then played Hattrick and was really enthusiastic about the game. As a football fan, I obviously had to give it a go myself! That's how I started my own team in January 2003.

The decision to make my hobby my work wasn't a hard one. As a Senior GM I was already involved in supporting and supervising local GMs, so when the opportunity arose to do this on a bigger scale, I thought that I was suitable for the job and I applied. And here we are, 11 years later and I still love every day of it!

Before you became a HT, you were a regular user. What do you remember of those times?
To be fair, I wasn't a "regular" user very long. Except if you'd count my days as a LA, Mod, GM and Senior GM as being a regular user as well, that is.

What I can remember, though, is that I used to measure my player's progress with pen and paper on a weekly basis. At some point, I came across HAM (Hattrick Assistant Manager), which was a bit more time friendly, so to say.

I purchased Supporter very early in my career and back then the Dutch translation of the game was just building up. Because I kept making suggestions to improve the Dutch language, I was appointed to become a LA within 4 months after starting my team.

What was it like to move to Sweden and leave Holland, 11 years ago?
The first half a year that I lived in Sweden, it felt like I was on vacation. Back then, the Hattrick headquarters was based in Stockholm, which is a beautiful city and the lakeside view from my home was magnificent, so I really enjoyed myself there.

I eventually moved to Malmo and now I live in Brazil, but Stockholm will always be in my heart.

What does an average working day look like for you?
In my position - working with users and volunteers - there isn't really something like an average day. Unexpected events and hard questions which you can't immediately reply on are always around the corner.

Of course, there is some routine in my work as well. My day usually starts with reading up on the forums, mail and other important things. Most of my time goes into Customer Service where I handle inquiries in Dutch, German, Swedish and related languages, supporting the volunteers of course and other urgent matters that pop up.

Every once in a while, we get updates on the "Hattrick Development Roadmap". How do you and your colleagues in Sweden decide on what to do when?
Three to four times per year, the HTs get together to align on our plans. When we set the basic scope for the upcoming period, we refine our plans and monitor our progress through virtual meetings so everybody knows what's happening an who's responsible for what.

When we have a working product, be it an update or a new feature, we deploy it on Stage, where real users can test it before we roll out to all users. This way, we try to reduce errors and unforeseen behavior for an improved user experience.

Are you currently working on any big projects?
At the moment we're mostly working on smaller improvements to make the user's lives better. We have a HT meeting coming up, though, and one of the things we're likely to discuss is a complete revamp of the national teams.

Editor's note: the HT development meeting took place in the meantime. Aartspam couldn't yet disclose any news, but a cryptic post can be found on Twitter: (https://twitter.com/Hattrick/status/1107998733411729408)



The pricing of Supporter is a recurring issue on the forums, with sometimes fierce discussions between users. What's your take on this matter?
When the new pricing was introduced, I felt for the users who, despite our efforts to make their investment worth the while, thought we did it wrong. There even was a time where whatever we did with the game, the supporter prices were the most discussed topic on the forums.

I have the impression that most supporters are now quite happy with the packages and what they get in return. Either way, lowering the prices wouldn't be an option for us because we need the income to keep this game running, let alone keep developing it.

At the end, you will always have complaining users, but as long as we keep following our roadmaps, I don't think it's something we have to solve soon.

Talking of which, if you could change something today, what would that be?
Woah, that's a tough one. Looking at my own job, I'd really like to have a way to increase the pace in which we process cheating and transfer violations. You can imagine it can be very frustrating for users when suddenly, a month after they sold a player for too much money, we correct the transfer price. It'd feel like we're stealing your money.

In general, I think it would be really nice to open up international competitions, like Hattrick Masters, to a wider audience.

Do you think that Zattikka (former owner of HT, red) still has some sort of influence on the game, even now the former owners are back in charge?
When Zattikka was our owner we came up with the Supporter tiers. It gives us the possibility to offer Supporter to the less wealthy users, while we can also give something to the die-hard players who can't get enough of the game. So yes, I think they still have some sort of influence.

Of the latest added or updated features, what's your favorite?
We take a lot of pride in the new app. Not only because we like it ourselves, but also because we get a lot of positive response from users. In the end, that's what counts for a developer: having happy users.

Can we expect similar (design) updates to the site as well? Will there be a follow-up to last year's design competition, for example?
That's a question that Johan can answer best. What I can say about it, is that we prefer to implement small updates at a high pace over changing the complete website at once. Past experiences have taught us that such big updates, without a period in which users can adapt to the changes, does not make them happy. No matter how good or bad the update actually is for them.

Between all your work for Hattrick, do you still have time to actually play the game?
I have to admit, I have neglected my teams a bit lately. Not so much because of my job, but more because of the kids. Having 4 kids is a time-consuming business!

HT-Gusy once said that she chose not to play this game competitively anymore because she has access to the match engine data. How do you feel about that?
I don't think having access to all this data would help me climb the ladder any faster than a regular, motivated manager. It's more a matter of perception, I believe. If a HT would be successful as a manager, you can be sure some users will question their integrity. So I agree with her words to some extent.

I have to ask, do you sometimes complain about the Match Engine at the Hattrick office? :)
No, or at least not out loud. I remember praying for better results when it took me 10 seasons to promote to the V division, but in general, the best teams wind up as champions. Unless they really experience a lot of bad luck, kind of like Real Madrid is facing this season, against Ajax for example (Ajax OWNED Real a couple of weeks ago, red. ;))

On the other hand, I spent those 10 seasons in a really active and fun division, so I didn't mind that much that I didn't promote a level up.

This article has originally been written by rik_daan079 (13289066) and is translated by Tasjek (8862647)




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