In this year, Portal Tibia interviewed the managing director of CipSoft, Ulrich Schlott (Durin).
Have a nice reading!
Portal Tibia: Who is Durin? Tell us briefly about yourself, your hobbies, your life.
Ulrich Schlott: Durin is a dwarf. Ok, a bit bigger than a dwarf in real life, but nevertheless, a dwarf. A dwarf that prefers going to sea over living in a mountain. And – well – really young for a dwarf, considering how old dwarves actually can get. On a more serious note, I’m one of the managing directors of CipSoft. You can find some information about me on CipSoft’s Website, for example.
Portal Tibia: Let’s start from the past. How did the idea of launching an online game come up, who was responsible for convincing the other members to join on this adventure and when did you realize that you really made the right choice?
Ulrich Schlott: Steve, Stephan and I already enjoyed programming a lot when we were still in school. Programming was our hobby, and we wondered how computer games work. We wanted to find an answer for ourselves. After we had finished school, the internet became more and more popular. So, quite naturally, we wanted to combine the gaming idea with the online factor. Role playing games had been of special interest to us. The basic idea was to have a character walking around in a virtual world, and seeing other characters that are played by other people in the same virtual world. That thought was fascinating. MUDs (mutiple user dungeons) already existed back then, but we wanted to improve the idea of MUDs by adding an optical component.
If I recall correctly, Steve was actually a bit of a driving force behind our endeavor. Not that this really would have been necessary. None of us actually had to be convinced of this idea, we were all for it from the start. So we also never asked ourselves the question if this was the right choice. We simply did it and it was fun. It was our hobby.
Portal Tibia: Have you ever wondererd that the game would be as successful as it has been over the years?
Ulrich Schlott: Actually, that question was not relevant to us. The question whether Tibia would be a success or not came up way later. As mentioned before, we simply did what we did and we enjoyed it. Not many questions were asked.
Portal Tibia: What is the biggest difficulty of being a Director on such a large company? And what’s the biggest advantage?
Ulrich Schlott: I suppose that’s really comparable to all other companies, maybe it is a bit more fun in CipSoft’s case, because we are dealing with games. I don’t really want to go into this any deeper.
Portal Tibia: In recent years, we have seen that CipSoft even released several prototypes of games that ended up being discontinued, does CipSoft still have plans to launch some other game or is the company’s focus just on Tibia and TibiaMe?
Ulrich Schlott: Of course we have plans! We are not at a stage yet at which we will publicly announce any details, though.
Portal Tibia: Tibia gets two major updates and several patches throughout the year. After nearly 20 years of existance is it difficult to create new and innovative content for Tibia?
Ulrich Schlott: We have quite a few creative heads in our company and I feel that they have shown that it is very well possible to come up with innovative and creative ideas for Tibia, even after 20 years. They always have new ideas about what can be done in Tibia, so we are well prepared for the future. The creativity level in CipSoft is really high.
Portal Tibia: We all know that one of the biggest problems in Tibia is DDoS attacks, even in 2013 we suffered a lot with this until the company presented some countermeasures, but that was not solved for a long time, how is CipSoft planning to solve this problem today?
Ulrich Schlott: Our technical department is working closely together with our providers. They are analysing attacks and finding new and better ways of protection. A lot has happened concerning DDoS protection already in the recent years. This is a topic that has our constant attention.
Portal Tibia: Another big problem in Tibia is the Botters, and one question that came up recently is: Do you believe that the Tibia 11 client is a solution to the botters’ end?
Ulrich Schlott: It was not our focus to do something against botters when developing Tibia 11. Our motivation was to create a new client that allows us to develop Tibia further in the future. The botting problem has to be tackled another way, although Tibia 11 might offer some opportunities in dealing with it. We are constantly working on this, however, we do not want to give out any details about this.
Portal Tibia: The Tibia 11 client came with the promise to renew the game code allowing it to be updated with content that was previously not possible. Can you explain clearly what Tibia 11 allows, what would be impossible in Tibia 10?
Ulrich Schlott: The Tibia 11 client is a big step in the development of Tibia. The entire update process for Tibia has become a lot easier with it. Updates can happen much faster and a lot less time is needed to maintain it. As a direct consequence, costs for the further development of Tibia are going to decrease, which will give us more time and freedom to focus on other important topics concerning Tibia.
Portal Tibia: We know that Tibia has lost a lot of players over the years, but we also know that many of these players still reading the news about the game and what’s new, what does CipSoft do to try to attract those players back to Tibia?
Ulrich Schlott: We give our best when developing Tibia, and we hope that our game will appeal to many people. If it is old players that are returning, or new players who have just discovered Tibia: all are welcome!
Portal Tibia: Do you believe that the participation of players in the development of the game, for example with ideas, is something positive or can it disrupt the company’s plans?
Ulrich Schlott: Participation of players is a bit of a two-edged sword. Of course player proposals are relevant and valuable to every game, since the players know best what they enjoy. However, it will never be possible to consider all proposals that are made by players. It has to be evaluated beforehand if a player proposal would actually work and if it fits into the game. Not every proposal fulfills these critera.
Portal Tibia: Why do players’ accepted proposals take time to implement, even the simplest? How did you evaluate the experience with the Council Board? Do you think we still have a council return?
Ulrich Schlott: There is really no such thing as “the simplest proposal”. Every proposal, every small feature has to be embedded in a development process. You cannot simply implement an individual feature, and then release it on its own. This would dramatically increase the costs of the development of a game. Everything has to fit together. So there are development cycles, in which features that fit together are implemented together. This needs lots of planning and an estimation of the effort that is going to be needed for the implementation as well. And after the implementation, there have to be tests. Nothing can be released untested. So – even if something seems to be a very simple proposal, it cannot be done just like that.
Also, we plan in advance. So when you make a proposal, and let’s say that would be something that we like and accept and that fits nicely to our concept, most likely the features for the next two bigger updates are already planned and maybe even already being worked on.
I was not involved in the process concerning the council board, so I cannot comment on this much.
Portal Tibia: Another problem for Tibia today is PvP, where many are still dissatisfied. Currently we have three types of PvP in Tibia (Hardcore, Open and Retro), is there any plan to unify all PvPs in a single system that most players like?
Ulrich Schlott: There is no such plan. On first thought I would say that combining three different concepts of PvP is not really possible.
Portal Tibia: The world of Tibia today is huge, and we have many areas that are usually empty while other super crowded, how does CipSoft see this problem? Is there any plan to revise old areas to make them more attractive to players?
Ulrich Schlott: Throughout Tibia’s history there have already been revisions of older areas, nothing speaks against continuing this. However, planning the content of updates for Tibia is not my area of expertise as managing director of CipSoft. The planning and the development of Tibia is done by the Tibia team, nowadays.
Portal Tibia: In recent times, we have seen CipSoft making several World Merges, do you believe that Tibia has many servers? To what extent is a World Merge beneficial to the game? And what is the worst disadvantage of that?
Ulrich Schlott: It lies in the eye of the beholder what you consider to be “many”. Tibia has enough game worlds at the moment, I would say. World Merges become necessary when there are not enough players on a game world anymore. When you walk around in Tibia and you don’t meet another soul for some time, for example, it doesn’t feel like Tibia any more. Tibia is an MMORPG, it’s designed for multiple players. Just look at world events. If there are not enough players on a game world, it is hard to manage them.
The downside of world merges are obvious. You are forcing communities together that might not mingle. Maybe players won’t like each other. The community of a game world will change with a game world merge. So a decision about merging game worlds is not made lightly.
Portal Tibia: Do you believe that Tibia has become a pay-to-win game?
Ulrich Schlott: No. I don’t consider Tibia to be pay-to-win. Your stand on this question depends on your definition of pay-to-win. In Tibia, everybody defines by himself what’s his win. You can play the game for as long as you like for free. Of course, if you pay you will have advantages. It’s not impossible to reach the same goal without paying, though.
Portal Tibia: In recent months, CipSoft has been launching a number of products such as mounts, outfits and decorations for the Store, at the same time we have seen a drop in these products implemented in the game for everyone, for example through quests. With the Store, is there a trend that most and the best products will be released only in the Store?
Ulrich Schlott: Of course we want to sell many assets in the Store, so yes, we hope to be able to offer nice items there. However, there are also outfits and mounts and other deco items ingame. When it comes to deco items, it is really difficult to say what is “best”. Something somebody considers to be really awesome might not meet the taste of many other players.
Portal Tibia: What do you think about the black market of Tibia? What measures does CipSoft intend to take against it?
Ulrich Schlott: No question, the black market harms Tibia. We don’t like the fact that there is a black market concerning Tibia. Our influence on this market, however, is really limited. If you look around in the world, for whatever there is a need that is not met by legal means, a black market develops for it.
Portal Tibia: Only after about 18 years did Tibia receive a promotional video. What is the reason for this delay? What are the future plans to promote Tibia?
Ulrich Schlott: We did not see a need for a promotional video for Tibia in the past, hence the delay. Promotional plans for the future, well – you’ll see.
Portal Tibia: Finally, would you like to send some message to the Tibians and our Brazilian community?
Ulrich Schlott: Yes! Never forget your first dragon – and keep clear of Ferumbras! 🙂
Thank you for your interest and the interview! Greetings to Brazil!