1-Hail Tusius! We believe this is your first interview for a fansite. The whole Tibian community, is very curious about you. After all, who is Tusius? Share with us some personal information like real name, age and hobbies and interests besides games.
Hail TibiaRoyal! Before I start answering your questions, I would really like to apologize to you for the long wait. Lots of things happened during the past months that I had to attend to. Next to the features of the summer update, we were busy with preparations for the upcoming three updates, as well as Tibia 11. Also, we have two new colleagues in the programming team, and part of my job as lead programmer is to help them get started with their new job and to make it easier for them to become part of the team. For these reasons I had to postpone answering your questions further and further, while I'm really flattered that you chose me as an interview partner.
My name is Stefan, I'm 37 years old and was born in Hamburg, in the North of Germany. In my spare time, I love to play all sorts of games. Where in some households you can find bookshelves, my wife and I have shelves full of board games, card games and tabletop games. In addition to these, I also love to play computer games. My preferences are competitive multiplayer games, for example Rts or Mobas. I'm also into pen & paper role playing games. The focus on fantasy and imagination with such games in contrast to my algorithmic working day is much welcomed sometimes. Before you now think "this guy never gets out", let me also state that I really like geocaching and I also like travelling. Two years ago I visited Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, two wonderful cities I gladly remember.
2-How and when did your interest for games come to light? Any special experience before you become a professional of this area? Tell us a bit.
I've simply always loved to play, no matter in which ways. I made my first experiences with computer games while watching my older cousin playing on the C64. During my studies of informatics I did not lay any focus on games, though. However, about 10 years ago, my brother and I published a browserbased MMO, non-commercial. Time became scarce, though, so we had to end it. I'm pretty certain that my experiences with this game did help when I applied to CipSoft.
3-How is your experience as a Tibian player? Are you an active player? If so, can you tell us your level, vocation, favorite city and favorite hunting place?
Just as every new CipSoft member, I played a lot of Tibia in the beginning. I tried out the different vocations and enjoyed the sorcerer a bit more than the others. I also visited pretty much all regions that my colleagues recommended and I really liked the optical look of Yalahar. Today, I sometimes play together with a couple of colleagues in the evenings, after work. I think that this is important to develop a feeling for the game and also for the wishes of the players.
4-Often we have seen job openings in CIP for programmers. Why is there such high demand? What are the personal features the companies look for on candidates?
In the first half of 2016 we were looking to fill different positions, for example in the areas of researching new technologies and prototyping, and also for Tibia's further development. As mentioned above, we have indeed already found two new colleagues for Tibia that fit CipSoft's demands. We are in general looking for highly motivated and well-educated high-potential job starters, or developers who already have experiences in the gaming industry and who fit the team well.
5-What is the daily routine of a Tibia programmer? What are the main challenges in programmer a game that has been around since 1997 and has a loyal community?
What is special for me about working on Tibia is the simultaneous development of features and making sure that the game keeps running. Also being part of a group of programmers who work on the same things is a nice experience. Every developer needs to be able to implement new features, as well as fix bugs. And a programmer does not only have to be able to fix bugs in features he developed himself, but also in features that were developed by another group member. Or he might even have to work on parts of the Tibia code that are many years old, maybe so old that the original programmer is not even working for CipSoft anymore. Also, every programmer needs to be prepared for a sudden change in priorities at all times. For example, if the game server crashes, or if there is a severe bug, we really need to be able to switch projects quickly in order to work on solutions right away. We work very closely together with Tibia's product management. Daily routine for a Tibia programmer usually means developing features for Tibia, and working on non-critical bugs. Both processes can be disrupted quite suddenly though at any time by an urgent problem. So most of the days have unanticipated surprises in store for each programmer. Daily routine is something that doesn't happen very often.
6-So – since you are the team leader, would you care to introduce your team? How many developers are on the team? How many are devoted to the tibia? How is the division of tasks?
My team consists of seven male and one female programmers. We all are working on Tibia only. Most of us have specialized in a certain field already, for example, the different Tibia clients or the website. As mentioned before, all of us need to be capable of taking over somebody else's work unexpectedly, in whatever situation comes up. That way we remain efficient, even if one of us is on vacation or has to stay home sick.
7-What are your strategies to keep motivated and focused team?
A main aspect for me is a constant information exchange with all of my colleagues. Every morning we have a team meeting in which my colleagues update me on their progress, and I deliver relevant news to my team, either from other Tibia departments, or news from the company itself. Apart from that, we have feedback rounds in which we give each other feedback on features that were developed. All developers can communicate their creative and/or technical ideas that way to the product management. And I also always try to make time for personal supervision meetings. Working for CipSoft means working in a performance-oriented environment, in which enjoying your work is seen as an important factor of success.
8-What do you most enjoy in your job? And what do you most hate?
I mostly appreciate the fact that days are never the same. I like reacting to unforeseen circumstances. I also enjoy trying to find ways to provide maximum use and fun for Tibia player within the technical boundaries we are given. What I dislike the most are players who ruin the fun for other players (and also for us), for example, by attacking our servers, by abusing bugs and by botting. These three topics are the biggest frustrations in my job, to be honest. I'd rather spend the time that we spend on dealing with these on feature development.
9-What are you all currently working on specifically? Can you tell us?
Presently, tasks we are working on are some internal features for the community management and the customer support, as well as several features for the winter update, among which you can find the imbuing system and further technical new features that will be used by our content team to create exciting boss fights, for example. These will be introduced to the community with the winter update teasers. Also things for Tibia 11 are constantly in our pipeline, as release preparations.
10-Do you have any contact with the community ? How is it and how much it influences your work?
I indeed have direct contact with the community during external test servers. I'm following the test forum then of course. Also Mirade and her community management team forward community feedback to us regularly, so that we quickly get to know what the community is saying about a certain topic. For me, reading the forums directly, though, whenever possible is a good experience. That way you learn first hand what's on players' minds. They are the people you are actually developing for.
11-For the programmer vacancy, CipSoft ask the candidate to have knowledge and experience in C #, C ++, Java and Unity Game Engine. We are curious about multi-platform projects. Can forward us something?
Apart from Tibia, CipSoft is of course also interested in new technologies and plattforms. We test many different things, also to do research for new products. Maybe there will be some surprises in the future.
12-With the popularity of tablets and smartphones opens up a large market niche for multi-platform games. We know that the TibiaME is designed for this audience but is increasingly common players seek ways to play conventional Tibia on these devices, although with limited game-play. So- Would be possible to have a Tibia in more platform than the current? What are the challenges for a programmer to develop a client like that?
To my knowledge there are no current plans to implement a Tibia client for mobile devices. That would be a great technical challenge indeed, transforming the UI of the Tibia client into a touch-UI, while keeping all options and functions...
13-In 2009 Akananto said in an interview that one of the reasons there is lag in Tibia was when the client needs too much time to process information and the frame rate drops drastically. Even today the players experience lag when there are many people online (Eg .: 2x time) or even during Warzones. What has been changed from 2009 until now? Is it possible to do something to improve it?
In the course of the past years we have found quite many different causes for server lag. Old problems have been solved, unfortunatley a couple of new ones came into existance, too. Just recently, in the mid of August 2016, we identified and fixed a couple of causes for lag in PvP situations. We are constantly improving situations, enhancing the client. Tibia is never done. You will always find things to improve.
In case you are interested in what Akananto, who is known as Pyrate nowadays, is doing: I can say that he is still working for CipSoft, as a product manager, currently busy with another project, though, not related to Tibia.
14-Lately, there have been really important bugs, some of them even fun for some players, but frustrating to others, like the possibility of bringing main items to Rookgaard. What is your first human response when you see a bug like that? And what is your reaction like programmer?
My reactions cannot really be separated like that. I have known Tibia long enough and I have been a programmer long enough already, too, to know that no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to prevent such bugs. Of course each bug annoys me, since I always try to get the best results possible. My team colleagues as well as the colleagues from the test department work really hard and concentrated in order to find as many bugs as possible. However, in any kind of software, but especially in games, "no bugs" is a challenge that can hardly be met. For Tibia that's even more true due to the very old architecture of the game and the special ways Tibia has.
15-We imagine that "bring to life" the ideas proposed by Game Content Designer shouldn't be easy, but it should also provide good times. How is it working with the game content team? Until now, in your opinion, what was the most difficult project? And the most rewarding?
We programmers work closely together with the game content team and we often brainstorm about ways to get their brilliant ideas working in Tibia. I would say the biggest challenges are their creative ideas concerning the development of boss fights. Some of the ideas are unfortunately technically not possible because the monster-AI that controls the Tibia creatures is very limited. For these reasons some of the visions simply cannot be realized. My team mates often do find ways, though, to make things work that we hadn't considered possible beforehand. I think I am allowed to spoil here that we will implement something for the winter update concerning boss fights where it was just like this.
16-Many players expect with the Tibia entering the Steam the problem with bots will be reduced. They believe that with the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) and more frequent and quick patches will hamper the work of the bot programmers. Is this a right thinking? There will be more work for Tibia's programmers too? Could be more frequent and quick patches out of Steam?
We have decided to put the project "Tibia on Steam" on hold for the time being. This endeavor turned out to be more challenging and ambivalent than we had anticipated. So it was decided that it is better to spend our resources on other Tibia projects, projects we consider more important at the moment.
17-About the possibility of the characters sit on chairs or being able to move beds in their houses. What is your opinion about it? There is a technical difficulty? Which are and why?
Every day we find out anew that in a 20-year-old Tibia system most features that appear to be simple on first sight are actually not simple at all in the end. For example, "moving a bed in a house" has so many dependencies and means changes in many different aspects of the game. An endeavor like that bears a high risk of unforeseen and severe bugs. A feature like that might be technically possible, however, it could include way more work than you would think, as well as risks. These circumstances could blow up a project like that immensely, considering work time. If such features end up on our task lists, we will of course give our best, however, that has to be decided by the product management.
18-We all imagine that one of the great difficulties (if not the greatest) of working with the program of the Tibia is the amount of variables and dependencies that grown over 19 years. What has been done to improve it and facilitate the implementation of new features and reduce the risk of bug? In this aspect we can expect a more sustainable Tibia?
You are absolutely right about that. As mentioned before, this is something we have to deal with on pretty much every single feature that we implement. We have put quite some work into facilitating this process and improving our tools, so that we have increased our chances to avoid bugs and also to find bugs. Every critical bug that is found gets analysed and we are looking for measures to prevent similar bugs in the future.
19-In your opinion, what are the positive and negative aspects of both current clients (stand-alone and Flash).
We all can hardly wait for the day at which Tibia 11 will become the new standalone client. For us developers the technical base of the new Tibia 11 client gives us way more possibilities to improve Tibia further, we can use far more modern development techniques. The support of Flash in browsers unfortunately is becoming less and less. That is a problem for the Flash client, obviously. Therefore, this is also one of the topics that will keep us busy in the future.
20-Late last year both Shintao as Delany spoke enthusiastically in others fansites interviews that in 2016 we would have news about the new client. Well, we're in 2016 first quarter!What's its progress to date? What advantages do you see on it? AND 21-What can we expect from new client? Is a hybrid with the best features of previous or a new concept? There is a prediction for tests? And about public tests?
Since quite some time has passed between you asking the question, and me giving the answer, you already know that we are in the open beta phase of Tibia 11 in the meantime. Further steps are going to happen soon. With Tibia 11, we have created a new Tibia client on the basis of new technologies, like Qt, to ensure that we will be able to extent Tibia's features in the future as well. Tibia is ready for the future with this client, ready for modern operating systems. We have tried to transport the look and feel of the current standalone client into this new client, so that switching to Tibia 11 after the beta phase will not feel completely different. We hope to be able to offer more comfort to Tibians with this new client, in an environment that they already feel comfortable in.
22-If Uman could tell you just one of the Tibians secrets, which one would you choose to learn? Why?
Considering that as a programmer, you could see me as one of the tools of Uman, I feel that there are not so many secrets left that Uman could fill me in on. I would rather enjoy sitting down with him to get first hand information on how it feels living together with such an evil other half like Zathroth.
23-If you could ask Zathroth to destroy something in Tibia, what do you choose? Why? How do you to rebuild it?
I know the people personally who have worked on Tibia's content, and I know that they built and are building everything with lots of passion. So I will rule out any kind of destruction of their work. The great variety of the exciting places in Tibia that players have been visiting for about 20 years should all remain, ready to welcome new players, too.
24-Could you send us some pictures? How about your character on a special place in tibia, a real life photo, your desktop photo or even your favorite place in CipSoft headquarters...
Uhm... yes, pictures will be attached!
25-Thats all, thanks for your time, we know you are one of the busiest persons in Cipsoft and that you had a hard time finding time for us. Could you say to players, especially the followers of TibiaRoyal, what can we expect for Tibia in 2016?
Apart from the Tibia 11 client, you can expect a nice winter update in 2016, with different features, as well as quests and boss fights. Tibia 11 will be extended, that will be an ongoing process and also the 20th anniversary celebrations of Tibia in the beginning of next year are already in our pipeline.
I would really like to thank you very much for your patience with me, TibiaRoyal! It was an honour for me to be interviewed by you! I wish you lots of fun in Tibia!
For that it was also a honour that you could answer our questions! We thank you greatly for that! Hope the next month will not be as busy as you had it.