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[Table] Minecraft: I am Tobias Möllstam, Front-end developer of Mojang - Ask me Anything!

2012.04.19 16:11 tabledresser [Table] Minecraft: I am Tobias Möllstam, Front-end developer of Mojang - Ask me Anything!

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Date: 2012-04-17
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Questions Answers
Is it true you eat failure and shit success? No.
How did you hear about and end up in Mojang? I heard about Minecraft from a friend and we played it summer 2009. Late 2010 Kappische (who I'd met at Uni) e-mailed me and thought I should apply, and I did.
Anything you miss from your previous job? Or are you really glad you quit from it? I don't miss the work, but the people there are almost as good as those at Mojang. : )
Did you expect Minecraft to blow up into something of this magnitude? I did not, and I still get surprised by the impact of Notch/Mojang to this day (see 0x10c/DCPU16 for one)
Any amazing Minecraft-related things you've seen lately? I looked up someone who did Petra, Jordan after being there in person, it was nice.
What would you like to see added into Minecraft in the future? Uhm, I'm looking forward the API-thingy to see how the community can blow me away once again.
Any individual projects you're working on at the moment? Individual projects, hmm; I'm making a game with Junkboy and Aron (and some of Junkboys dudes from the intertubes), I want to start a Hackerspace in Stockholm, I'm coding some stuff for a project with some other friends, I also want to make more games.
(Yes that question\) If you were stranded on an island, which Mojang employee would you summon over to help you? I'm guessing I'd be summoning them from not being stranded to being stranded with me, sounds harsh, I'd go down alone!
Favourite leisurely activities? :) Making something that resonates with people, but it feel like it's been a long while since. :(
Favorite text editor for coding? I'm trying out Sublime Text 2 right now, but real IDEs are nice for compiling languages. I don't really care that much. Stop asking what text editor people use, that's not where the magic is.
Hello Tobias, just wanted to ask, do you all at Mojang have a private server that everybody at Mojang plays on? (I'm Nosey, sorry!) Thanks if you answer! No. We did once, Notch blew it all up with TNT.
For someone with an umlaut in their name, that's a fantastic grasp of English you have there. Do the whole Mojang crew speak English? If so, does all the office work still go on in Swedish even though I imagine a lot of the words and phrases you use in development and programing are English? Always been curious! Thanks! Everyone at the office are proficient in English, and quite well I might add. That said, we're all Swedes here right now and—exactly as you predict—we're using all the crazy tech words in English, so it probably sounds quite silly. : )
Hey, Tobias, when Guude and co. crashed Mojang's login servers, did you come up with a plan to prevent that kind of silliness? We have several options from banning specific IPs to drowning out DDoS traffic pay-for-solutions that specialize on that kind of thing but in the end it's basically about having a stable enough architecture that can handle spikes. When all that fails I'm usually sitting on the floor with my laptop, hammering away in the terminal and crying. : )
Do you think that the in-browser version of Minecraft Full Version is going to be sustainable as the game gets bigger? Yes! Although I think that there's a bunch of interesting stuff we can do with browsedesktop intertwining. Browsers aren't going anywhere, yet desktop applications still feel more robust. Let's see if we can challenge that.
Do you plan adding responsive web design into / so it would scale nicely on tablets and phones? This would be great, really great, but we constantly have to prioritize and this is having a hard time reaching the short list. I think it would carry even more weight for e.g. Mojang account etc.
Can you fix thumbnail/add logo for I think I've done this now, but is living under a cache, we'll see if it works. : )
Why we are being logged out from constantly? Is it for security? You are? That doesn't sound too good, It could be us deploying and restarting but I'll have to check it out.
Any plans on adding HTML5 skin editor / composer? It’s quite a barrier for players and I think you want to turn singleplayer into a server other people can join, so it’s going to be important. Sounds excellent, would love to.
How many players use in-browser Java game? Let me check with Patrik… uhm, hard to day. 20 million every month wants to at least (until they realize they have to buy the game I guess)
Sorry for hijacking, but I would really like to know this. Will I eventually be allowed to change my E-mail? I was young and stupid when i registered my account in early infdev, and I used a temporary adress. Now I'm terrified of hackers. Yes you will, but you might have to migrate it. We don't want to double add features and we're kind of moving forward with the Mojang account.
Being a web developer myself, i certainly understand the feeling of being hired for one thing only to end up handling various things that aren't in the job-description. Hello!
Your title is "front-end developer", but from talking about working on the login servers and all that, your work obviously goes much further than just the front-end. Can you give us a bit of insight into what your day-to-day activities and responsibilities are? Today is actually the first time in a long while I've done some real front-end business, in PHP of all languages; I've been starting a new Wordpress skin. Yesterday I repaired the twitter feed on and manually fixed some fallout from a Cobalt gift code bug we had (mostly e-mailing a dozen buyers). The other week I restructured our office network topology because I wanted us to have access to our development servers in the cloud in a sweet way, so now we have a bunch of subnets and it's all really pretty! Since we don't have sysadmins I do quite a lot of server setup and configuration as well, and optimization of development and deploy pipelines. I actually like doing everything, I would gone bored if only got the HTML/CSS cake.
Also, what were your qualifications when you went into Mojang? Did you already have a wider knowledge then just HTML and CSS that let you just get on with the server-stuff Mojang expected you to do or were you very much thrown into the deep-end and had to just figure it out as you went along? I'd done some Java but never for the web (Lego robots!), but I had good experience with SQL, Ruby on Rails and PHP. It all worked out well and turned out to be a perfect level for me to learn a lot of new stuff. That said, I've never been afraid of doing something for the first time and putting it in production after the first attempt, it usually works out.
What are your thoughts on Django? No particular reason for asking this, but hey, it popped in my head and now I'm curious. Personally, <3 Django. (And this is coming from a mod_php/mod_python/mako guy) Never used it, but Zend Framework is scary!
Hey Tobias, Quick Q: Who Wins The Most Nerf Battles In The Office? Curios game, nerf battles. The only way to win it seems, is not to play.
Hi Tobias. Thanks for taking time out of your schedule for this AMA! Do you/did you play Minecraft prior to working at Mojang? What ongoing projects are you and your team working on currently? I tried it and kind of liked it. It wasn't until after working here that I got hooked and transcended time when playing it. I kind of got hooked on Redstone and the possibilites, I've made a prototype for network communication between two sites over a redstone wire.
Improvements you would like to see in Minecraft? *EDIT: Do you have a picture of yourself floating around the net? It is always good to associate a name with a face. (MORE EDIT: Thanks btcprox) The old(?) animal pathfinding when following you in stairs We're trying to improve the mojang account part of things so we can migrate more people. : )
What is your education/technical background? My educational background doesn't really matter, but I've studied comsci at uni with focus on game dev. I've been obsessed with computers my entire life.
How does it feel to be just 23 years old and have the opportunity to have your career life skyrocketed into one of the most popular indie game devs of our time? Of course it's truly humbling and amazing. At the same time it feels pretty relaxing knowing I probably never will be a part of something bigger than Minecraft, so now I don't have to worry about it.
Question regarding server-sided stuff: how many serves does Minecraft employ? It's a large game, so I doubt one server can handle that many requests. Are they kept in the office or off-site? Are there any guards? Security cameras? Do they check you at the front door? We have maybe 5-10 login servers, they're in Virginia at Amazon.
Are you planning a heist? :O.
During the Mojam, how intense was it managing the livestream? What are you anticipating for the next? What software/hardware did you use? Are you Mac, PC or BeOS? Haha, this was one of those spontaneous Tobias Mollstam at Mojang thingies. At Wednesday I kind of realized that people was just expecting the stream to work, so I got busy, without haven gotten the responsibility. I called a media production company working with film sets to rent a camera and a wifi broadcaster (after a bunch of research), then I brought my PC from home with a cab and hooked it all up. I'd never done anything like it before but it worked out well, mostly thanks to guys remote controlling my computer and streamlining the configuration. : )
Edit: Not sure what will happen next time. Preferably a more mobile/smaller camera setup maybe.
Will something like this ever become a reality? It would be great, but also a huge undertaking. I wonder if instead can provide the community with tools to do it themselves. : )
What was your favorite game growing up? I didn't play much games, I had a Mac and was mostly busy in Kid Pix and finding out how to break the operating system.
What influenced you to become a programmer? Programming for me isn't a goal but a stepping stone on my way to create things that make people happy (or whatever).
Are you the one who makes the major decisions for the website, or do Jeb and Co do that, and you implement it? What is your ultimate goal for the website? If you want something done you basically just pitch it for some people and then do it, whether it's from me, Jeb, Notch, Carl, the maid or whoever. I don't really have an ultimate goal, it's so organic. :) Although I did have it my goal when starting here to redesign it, but now I'm kind of fond of it. <3.
What's been the best moment of your career at Mojang so far? Link to
What are you most looking forward to in the future of Mojang? I'm so excited over Notch's new project Link to that I can hardly sleep.
Notch seems quite fond of you - he mentions your name quite a lot more than any of the other employees. Why is that? You'll have to ask him. I just know that I like him a lot. __^
Is there any one feature that you want most implemented on the site? If so, what is it, and how does the rest of the team feel about it? I'm usually the conservative one, or usually have pointers on other peoples pitches, so not quite sure. : )
What is your favorite part of working at Mojang? Why? My favorite part is that we're a small group of dedicated (very kind at that) people having the opportunity for quite big impact.
What is your least favorite part of working at Mojang? Why? Saying no to people coming by office sucks, but we can't. :(
Thanks for doing what you do, I can't say how much I appreciate the hard work of you and the rest of the Mojang team. Keep up the good work! Hugs <3.
Hi Tobias, do you guys use anything like Puppet or MCollective to manage your server infrastructure? Also, how big is your web infrastructure? A few servers or a lot? Hello, we have about 100 servers in total for all our application. 30-40 of them maybe are directly Minecraft related. We're constantly trying to improve (read: lower) the amount of servers we have, and our deployment pipeline.
I work in deployment automation for web-facing stuff, so I'm always interested to see how others manage their infrastructure. Currently we're running a combination of Gradle, Jenkins, RunDeck and bash scripts.
Do you have any plans for the switch to Mojang accounts, or will it stay in its current form? My plan is that we start wanting people to migrate when the service is more mature (and better!). We will never force old accounts, and we will not shut them down (leaving a window here for the unforeseeable future, like when Mojang is no more or whatever).
Can you comment on any upcoming or planned web features? Ehm, not quite sure, we don't have many secrets. We've been working loads with trying to improve the tools for our customer support and that kind of stuff. One of our pages will get a face-lift within the next weeks, not saying which! :D.
What has been the biggest challenge for you while working for Mojang? Not being mean when haven't slept for long hours. :)
How much traffic do and the forums actually get in pageviews/unique visitors per day? Your proudest achievement before Mojang? How about during your stay with them? Favourite pizza topping? Important question is in bold, of course. As the hen is telling you, we're not involved in the forums. has 35 000 000 visitors per month.
What did you graduate in to become a frontend developer? Which schools did you pass and with which courses? I'm really interested in this because I'm planning a similar work choice, mainly because I like design and coding. I decided before starting to study com-sci/games that I would quit front-end web stuff. And here I am. : )
Study doesn't matter that much, passion and practice does. <3.
When will we be able to change our email address without having to show proof of purchase? eg. Loosing the bank statement that shown the transaction ID. Soon! Got some stuff planned for Mojang accounts.
If you could bend time and space to change exactly one and a half things about Mojang and have them remain that way forever, what would they be? Also: what is your favorite kind of sandwich? I don't want us to grow into a large company without us knowing why, and I'm pleased we're not. :)
Why don't you use public key cryptography for logging into minecraft servers, instead of having DOSable central login servers? Maybe this is something I should give some deal of thought, but I don't like the idea of their TTL being permanent. Would be cool to have something like this, but to answer your question: because it's easier.
Where do you see Minecraft in 5 years? More and more Minecraft belongs to the community, so you tell me. I'm sure Minecraft will be self sustaining for quite some time, I imagine we'll just put a login server running somewhere. : )
How hard is it to keep the login servers up at peak times? Not at all right now, both me and the application have matured. Last time it was a hassle was when we released Minecraft 1.0 and I was sitting back stage sweating with my trusted laptop. : )
If you were stranded on a deserted island, and could take any one Mojang employee with you, who would it be and why? I'm sure Aron will be coming when he's done with Kappische.
Is there any big project(s) that you are working on now that you can't wait to be up and running? Yes! We have some things on the roadmap coming out from the #devcraft with the Minecraft team.
I'm the kind of guy who implements big features on nights and then pitches it when it's done (Just one other thing…). : ) Bad habit really.
Whats your favourite food? Tasty food!
I'd like to know what were the problems with scaling the login servers? Did you have a budget for the server or did you pretty much throw a bunch of servers on it and then optimized? How long did it take to go from simple dedicated server to a cloud implementation reliable enough not to have to sleep next to your laptop? The problem is that it was only a single app doing everything, which worked for a while. And when we moved to several machines there were a couple of design decisions that no longer were valid (such as in memory caches on each machine). We basically moved over a week, throwing hardware at it and then stabilized maybe 1 month later with another 2 months of high grade optimizations.
Hi, thanks for doing this Ama, its good that mojang does so much to connect with its fans. What is the strangest thing to happen in the mojang office in your opinion? Haha, good question. The housewarming party with the smoke cannon and the neighbor's party joining up was weird! :)
Seeing you've ended up doing loads of server-side stuff, apart from html/css and I'm guessing java - what other languages do you use/know how to use? I have Google, so I'm pretty much invincible. :) No but really, I don't think there's many languages that are a barrier to use, more like design patterns and such.
What text-editor do you use at mojang? Sublime Text 2 or NetBeans sometimes.
I currently live in Belgium and when there's an update I, almost every time, have trouble updating Minecraft. Is this normal or should I try something else? If I'm using the Tekkit launcher I don't have this problem. Hmm, would be nice to see what kind of problem that is. Maybe we should add some sort of exception logging to the launcher. Scary amounts of data though.
What types of user interaction do you account for when setting up a UI? Like, do you factor in things like "people are used to looking here for this. or there for that?" Or do you just kind of wing it until it feels right? Peoples expectations and set standards are powerful and should be used. But it's always funny to try to think about the next logical step.
I have no specific sample of this, I am just interested in your general perception of UI creation. I mostly just wing it / brute force until looks good.
What are the future plans for will we ever have a real profile? I hope so, I love community parts of things. <3.
Hey there! :) How are you involved in 0x10c? I'm mostly bothering Notch with questions. Nothing official.
What's your stance on EvilMinecraft? Ouueeehhh.
Is a site integrated friends list on the todo list in the future? Also thanks for all the hardwork you and the team have put in. :) I hope so!
What was the change to the login servers you mentioned on twitter yesterday? Some extra debug data on the exception logging.
What is your favorite breakfast food? Oatmeal (Swe: Havregrynsgröt)
Would you tell us about some of the work you have done recently that has gone unnoticed? I'm pretty good getting attention on Twitter for stuff I do. :) Hmm… I went on vacation? No really, no idea… Sorry :D.
Hello Tobias, Jeb promised me a toucan.
Q: What animal (hostile, neutral, passive, utitlity or boss) would you like to see added into Minecraft? Edit: not really.
Well hello there. So I was wondering - how do you avoid getting risotto in your mustache? TIL you can spell it mustache.
Yo Mölle. Will you be working on the multiverse server for 0x10c as well? Oh, and wanna play some SC2 tonight? Det kanske vore nice! Men jag har en kompis över, är lite awkward att spela då.
Where do you get such fancy glasses? The first pair was Bjorn Borg from the shelf, and the last one a coupe of months back I ordered them online: Link to :D.
I love you. Do you love me back? Yes.
Hey Tobias! Scorpion or Sub-Zero?? :) Scorpion!
Edit: subzero is a pain :(
Would you like to come over for some vegan-pizza? + It was really nice last time! Hej Robert!
So would you please come over to our place and play some silly boardgames and drink a lot of tea :3333. Sounds excellent, did you guys move? :O Pizza. :O~
What is everyone at mojangs relationship with the yogscast? Not sure, I like them! And I get the feeling everyone else too.
Do you know for sure who runs the trollstam twitter account? Yes, luckily the culprit retweeted the first Trollstam tweet from his own account!
What's the status on the documentary Minecraft: The Story of Mojang? I've heard rumors of a Summer 2012 release but I haven't seen anything official. That's what I heard too, from @2pproductions, the guys who are making it.
Are you going to be doing the backend login servers for 0x10c and Scrolls? Scrolls: yes, they use Mojang accounts. 0x10c, I guess? No idea. Everything with that project is so new.
Hi Tobias. Just wanted to say thanks for being the oft' unsung hero of minecraft and for keeping the proverbial minecraft ship afloat this past year and a bit. Username Change I'm not sure how it will look in the end. All I'm concerned with right now are the technical showstoppers and server administrative hurdles that will have to be addressed before we even consider how we want it, if we want it. Personally I think we should allow it at least once for current players due to bad communication resulting in people having their IRL-names and such, but I wouldn't like people to change name all the time. We will have to migrate all the white-/banlists to use the never-changing unique ID of the player instead of storing only their name. There must also be a way for server admins to be able to type "/ban mollstam" and have it lookup the ID for mollstam and save it to the file, or something like that. Mojang Friends List & Other Steam-like Features I think a friends list would make perfect sense for us to have. So you can see your friends playing Minecraft, Scrolls or Cobalt, and joining them easily and all that jazz. What we don't want to do is to build another Steam, that would make little to no sense. Instead we just want to empower "our" games (incl. Cobalt) to benefit from each others audiences without imposing any limits on the games itself. I highly doubt we will ever do a dedicated desktop application with a centralized store—we want to be a bit more behind the scenes than that.
Is the ability to change ones username still in the pipeline. If it is, will a certificate be dedicated to each account to stop people circumventing ban lists using a name change.
Will Mojang create its own integrated friends list / unified games network ala steam. And if not, will we ever see mojang support for Desura (basicly an indie-steam).
Tobias tell us a joke! :) Do you know why they only eat one egg for breakfast in France?
Because in France, one egg is un œuf.
Will official mod support be coming out any time soon. It would be great to see because it has made me personally want to play the game soo much more. Jeb and his merry men are working on it!
Wat phone do you use (please say iphone :P) Iphone :P.
Can we have an idea about the next major mob/block/item/terrain feature in Minecraft? I don't work on Minecraft.
Last updated: 2012-04-23 14:09 UTC
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