An Interview with Loftar and Jorb

What is your general opinion on the current state of the game? Are we having fun yet? Have you been murdered by anyone?
Jorb: Had one fight, both of us walked away from it. He with some stuff from my farm. Um… idk. Like the general nuts and bolts of the game I really, really like, and by and large it usually feels fairly well balanced and whatnot. Like the basic grind on the farm is pretty sweet. But the game is clearly lacking at the top end of things. But, yeah, things like inspirationals and their interactions with the bodily fluids and how all those systems kind of feed into one another. Those things I like.
Loftar: Needs more content, obviously, but we all knew that. :) Indeed; I think it is our unanimous conclusion that the basic model of character development turned out even better than we actually thought. I haven’t been playing as much as Jorb, but the LP model has really grown on me.
Jorb: Myeah. Also things like fast travel and siege are just so much more contained and under control here compared to Haven.

I am a bit dismayed, as I’m sure you are, of the abuse of the fast travel system in salem, like meeting alts in Boston to exchange resources.
Jorb: Well, it’s a nice thing. Obviously it’s going to be abused to hell and back :)
Loftar: I am quite split in the issue of Boston, indeed. :)
Jorb: Yeah. The game will never have true locality as long as there is Boston… But Boston is fun :( I love going there and just watching people.

I’m sure you both have seen some discussion about claims and summoning, etc. Is it intended behavior that one can be summoned at any point on the claim?
Jorb: Nope
Loftar: It was intended, but only before we realized its full implications. ;)

How much different has it been working on Salem vs. working on Haven? Do you actually go in to the Paradox office regularly, or just occasionaly for meetings?
Jorb: Occasionally for meetings, but it feels like regularly ^^ We go there maybe…  every other week or so?
Loftar: I feel that the way we used to work on Haven was very different, actually. The pressure of actually having expectations from the ones who pay us are making a difference, for sure. In some ways good, but in other ways bad.
Jorb: Myeah. For better or worse we aren’t making all the decisions.

What’s the best thing about working with Paradox (or a publisher in general)?
Loftar: In some ways, I actually do get more concrete stuff done with expectations hanging upon me, but then again, I feel I have less peace of mind for the kind of reflections that are also necessary.
Jorb: They have certain standards. That’s a good thing at the end of the day I think.
You feel like you have to make rushed decisions to meet deadlines?
Loftar: Well, we don’t actually have many deadlines. That’s one of the good things about working with Paradox. :) But, you know, it’s hard to prioritize code cleanups and other such reorganizations when I know there are visible things that “need” to be done.
Jorb: It kind of keeps us a bit more honest in our ambitions.
Loftar: Or just general mental reflection over the state of the code. I’ve felt at many times that I’m losing my way in the local context. Doing too many small changes without integrating them fully into my mental model of the system as a whole. Then again, there are many small changes that I’ve made that I probably just wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t had those expectations, and that’s a good thing. But, well, yeah, Paradox have actually been overall rather pleasant to work with, in that they really don’t bother us that badly. ;)
Jorb: There are people who take a very material interest in our delivering. That’s obviously going to be good and bad. Generally speaking they have been fantastic and extremely understanding. And helpful and generous and a whole bunch of other nice things.

What about the way you two work together has changed? Back in the Haven development heydey it seemed that you two would get together one evening a week and work on the game until the wee hours, and beyond that, not much. 
Jorb: In retrospect I think we worked more on the game than the one dev session really gave away, though.
Loftar: Well, the main thing that has changed is Jorb moving to the other side of Stockholm. ;)
Jorb: I know I spent a lot of my spare time doing graphics and whatnot.
Loftar: Indeed. Outside of the dev sessions, I did spend a lot of my time pondering, indeed, the state of the code and doing cleanups and other such invisible changes.
Jorb: Myeah. And playing the game, obviously.

Do you guys have an office now for Seatribe? Or do you get together more frequently?
Loftar: Nah, we both work from home.

What is your biggest frustration so far with salem?
Jorb: Hmm
Loftar: Not having 48 hours a day to work on it? :)
Jorb: Idk. The general “slow” pace of development always frustrates me.
Is it completely impossible to hire any more people?
Loftar: I think it is before it has proven that it’s able to earn its keep, at least. :) There’s of course the mythical man-month problem, as well. Hiring someone would obviously only slow down development initially.
Jorb: At this stage hiring feels kind of pointless, for that matter. I mean… the hard things are basically done. It’s downhill from after multiple servers. If we could get on, say, the Haven schedule of like one nice content patch a week I’d be happy with the pace I think. Frustration occurs when we go months without meaningful content patches, and by meaningful I don’t mean the patches where I randomly add more inspirationals and whatnot.

So, how are things progressing with multi-server support?
Loftar: Well, further, at least. I think it’s not too far until I can at least have multiple servers up without travel between them. And even with inter-server travel implemented, we were planning to wait with actually allowing it, so that new servers have a chance to develop somewhat “in peace” before existing characters from other servers are allowed to set foot on them. Which means that that level of support should be enough to actually start up another server.

Do you have a plan already for the method of travel between servers?
Loftar: Primarily, we were planning to add coaches, quite simply. Initially, at least.
I’m assuming that one could not simply walk, of course…
Loftar: Indeed. :) Either way, it would be a bit boring to not make some kind of mechanic for it. It should at least require some kind of resources, I think. The coaches probably silver, I guess. I wouldn’t mind other means of travel, though.

A coach and possibly other methods like a ship or something would be available to hire for silver, and they would whisk one away immediately? Or would there be some waiting period?
Loftar: Well, I’ve just imagined them whisking you away, but then again I’ve almost only thought of it in terms of implementation yet. I haven’t really considered the actual mechanics yet.

Is there any time estimate on multiserver?
Loftar: Not really; I cannot estimate times. ^^ It’s one of my weaknesses. :)
Jorb: It’s like kryptonite.
Loftar: At times I’ve tried to make something up, but I’m always wrong anyway. :)
Jorb: … Loftar just squirms and becomes physically unable to respond ^^

What are your plans for after the multi server update?
Jorb: Meaningful gear is my plan. And mordor. And more creatures.
Loftar: The immediate other thing that Paradox wants to have ASAP, or rather yesterday, is a new, pretty client UI. ^^ They’ve drawn most of the graphics.
They just wanted a reskin?
Jorb: Some functional changes, but marginal on the whole.
Loftar: Well, it’s never “just” a reskin, but that’s what it looks like, at least. :) It needs to be coded in that it’s drawn differently. But, indeed, the functional changes are marginal.
Jorb: … but to the untrained eye it is basically a reskin. Or, perhaps rather, a skin :) Because the present UI isn’t exactly worthy of being called a skin in the first place :)
Loftar: Yes, but Ender and Apxeolog will probably have fun times. ;) Especially Apxeolog, seeing how he manages the codebase. ^^ Well, his problem. :)
Did you add minimap radar? Waypoints?
Jorb: Haha, lol. Sorry. Those are all nice things, I know.
Loftar: Not intrinsically tied to the UI changes, at least, but both of those are features that we are considering. I’d rather prioritize new game mechanics than them, however.
Jorb: We’re having at least the radar at one point or another. Not having it is retarded. But, indeed, the game mechanics feel a whole lot more important.

Do you have some specific plans for how to make equipment meaningful, or what you’ll be adding to the darkness?
Jorb: Specific to some degree or another.
Loftar: Lots, to some degree. :) But most of it is not very fleshed out.
Jorb: We know what ballpark we’re in? But, I mean… you have to understand also that that is kind of how we work. We never really know what anything is going to look like until we actually do it.
Loftar: Indeed. We hardly ever even discuss actual details and such things before the hour when we put it in. Before that, we discuss things very abstractly. And it’s hard to even communicate it without using the… language that has developed between the two of us. :)
Jorb: We talk a lot in terms of incentives and general goal-oriented reasoning. Indeed. There is a fair amount of shared context, so to speak :)

Are there any other upcoming major milestones of content that you’re pretty sure will happen, like industries you want to add?
Jorb: I’m fairly certain that I will push for more developed wood and metal industries, i.e. more kinds of metal, better mining system, more high tier resources. And similar things for wood handling. When and how that materializes I have no clue :)  Animal husbandry is pretty high up on my list as well. I want a horse and a cart.
Loftar: I’ve also started to form some loose ideas on alchemy, so given some peace of mind I’m rather hopeful I’ll be able to flesh that out to something useful.