ORB Interview: Joshua Keller (JKell)

After a short hiatus, ORB is back with our famous ORB Interviews. Over the course of our history here, we have interviewed many people throughout the Politics & War game – these interviews were more related to Politics & War in general, but since our pivot to a wider audience we are also pivoting to a wider view of those we interview.

Our first in this new process is Joshua Keller or as you may know him, JKell. He’s an all-around great guy, always chill and always on the move in Politics & War and in real life. Check it out.


The JKell Interview:

ORB: We obviously know each other through playing Politics & War – have you played any other games like PW?

Joshua: I love simulation games and when Sim City bombed in 2013, I was so starved for a good city/nation sim I took to the internet.  I did not really find one that I thought was interesting enough, besides I just got Minecraft so my 14-year-old self just forgot about nation sims.  2015 rolls around and I’m still bitter about Sim City sucking so I look for a way to get my hands on a nation sim, I bump into Politics and War. I never actually found Cyber Nations until like 2017 and people in Orbis told me about it.

TL:DR No, I didn’t even know another game existed like P&W till 2 years of playing.

ORB: What alliance are you currently in?

Joshua: T$, but really I’m on the Hobo Express.  Going on a massive tour of all the alliances.

ORB: Have you been in any other alliances?

Joshua: Roz Wei was my first and Blue Moon was my first gov spot (and boy did that crash).  After Blue Moon burned, I went back to Roz and just kinda chilled till that crashed. I went to Defcon, then Sassania, then that merged with Roz…  So I got thrown into Empyrea… Then I just flipped everyone off and got on board the Hobo Express.

ORB: Do you maintain any position within your alliance other than general member? If so, what does that position entail and do you like it? If not, do you think you’re ready to take on a position with a little bit more weight to it?

Joshua:  Blue Moon was my first high gov spot(FA I believe) and I almost single-handedly caused that alliance to die.  The head guy and his partner even quit the game after that debacle. Ever since then I have been very happy not touching gov.  I help out when needed as like a mentor, but I do not want the responsibility of high gov.

ORB: What do you think about the current political spectrum of PW? What would make it better?

Joshua: I have said it before and I’ll say it again, people are too concerned about growing nations and not fighting.  I can’t really blame as the game’s mechanics encourage it, but it makes it so boring. When you hear about alliances looking to make 6+ months of peace, it makes you roll your eyes; like come on.  This game is half politics and half war, that doesn’t mean we fight for half the year and do nothing the other half.

ORB: If you could change one thing about PW, what would it be?

Joshua: Make wars mean something.  If you lose a war, you lose land or the ability to get certain resources and the winner gains those rights.  I know that seems brash, but I want people to want to fight. If you want something less controversial, nation events, please.

ORB: If you were going to add a mechanic to the game, say if you had the coding skills, what would you add to make the game a bit better?

Joshua: Nation events, please.

ORB: Where are you from in the real world?

Joshua: In the midwest of the U.S. at a small D3 college playing baseball.

ORB: If there was one place you could visit right now, where would you go?

Joshua: Germany, I love studying WW2 and that would be a treasure trove.

ORB: If you could talk to anyone from history (anyone) who would that be? Why? What would you say to them?

Joshua: My major in college is History and Political Science (and another major in English and a minor in Pre-Law) so I get asked this a lot.  My opinion changes with the books I read, but at the moment I would pick Ben Franklin. I just finished reading his Autobiography, again, and I really want to know what he is like.  The guy is the definition of a bro, at least it seems that way, so I would just like to sit down with him and see what a casual conversation would be like.

ORB: Are you currently going to school? What for? Do you have a job? What do you do?

Joshua: I go to college, as stated before, at a small D3, studying to be a lawyer, and am a RA.  During the summer months, I mow lawns with a local business back home.

ORB: A lot of people in the PW community know and like you for the work you put into your tracks, anytime anyone offers up something creative and new people flock to it. What got you on the path of writing songs/verses/tracks and what do you plan to accomplish with those skills?

Joshua: This is a little depressing so read with caution.  When I was very young I got sexually abused, I didn’t really think anything of it until I was like 13.  Around that time an artist by the name of NF got signed to a major label and started pumping out music. As a depressed teen, I found him and took solace in his words.  I got a lot out of his music and it made me want to experiment with sound.

I tried to be depressing and make music that was like NF’s, but I realized I couldn’t.  My life is truly blessed by God with parents, friends, and an environment that has allowed me to do so much.  I had to make myself depressed in order to try and write bars to express my depression, not a good combo. Years of self-reflection and I realized that I had no reason to be depressed and that the future is mine for the taking; I got out of it.

That’s when I stopped trying to make sad music and just tried to have fun.  I made a song that became the theme song for the baseball team my freshman year of college and it just snowballed from that.  I thought of a funny song to make about Sweet Ronny D for Great Job! and all of a sudden it made my music matter. I never thought that something I did for fun was going to be this thoroughly enjoyed.  

As for the future, I don’t know.  I’m not banking my career on music, I’m still just trying to have fun.  I just stepped into a studio a few days ago for the first time with the first producer I’ve ever seen (new track on Spotify and new one coming).  That is something brand new for me and I hope it means I can keep doing this for a while. I can’t promise that the music will never stop coming out, but I’ll keep going until I can’t put a smile on someone’s face.

ORB: We think it would be great if you could share something exclusive with us for the interview to hype it up a bit – this interview is broadcasted through our site, discord, and our social media – would you be willing to give us a taste of what you have?

Joshua: I’m working on a ton of tracks, so there is a lot to look forward to.  Here is a clip from a series I’m working on.

Click here to listen!

ORB: Do you have any pets? Want to share a picture?

Joshua:  Got a dog, Lexy.  No photo, sorry.

ORB: Did you know that the coolest people in the world are named Joshua?

Joshua: Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down.

Yes, yes I did.

ORB: I’m going to say a word and you’re going to say the first thing that comes to mind, ready? Banana

Joshua: Put a banana in your ear!

Thanks Joshua for finding the time (finally) to finish up our interview! I know you’re a busy guy and we respect that immensely.

If you want to connect with Joshua on his socials and check out his tracks on soundcloud here are some links to help you out:

 

Alex – ORB Interview

ORB Interviews

Each week Orbis Weekly will produce a number of interviews that we send out to people all over the world. The idea behind the ORB Interview is to shed a little light on people, especially ones we think the world of Orbis should know more about.The questions will range from basic, random, and relevant.

Alex

Alex, previously known as Sheepy, is the Politics & War game admin/owner. I have personally known Alex for quite some time now and although the relationship has been controversial here and there & there have been ups and downs in the relationship he has with the game community – he’s still here, alive and kicking & if you get to know him he’s a pretty cool guy.

“I’m not playing the game currently, so I’m not in any alliances.” – Alex

The Interview

ORB Weekly: Can you start by telling ORB a little bit about yourself?

Alex: Ah, where to begin? I grew up in a small town of about 500 in rural Montana and have had a passion for making games since I was little. Throughout Junior High and High School I was always trying to make a P&W type game. By my senior year, I finally had something decent (P&W). I’ve been working on the game ever since, adding new content and moderating the community. I’ve also been at college these past 3 and a half years at the University of Minnesota, studying Economics (with a minor in Political Science.)

 

ORB Weekly: Is PW the first simulation game you’ve played?

Alex: Far from it. I’ve always liked simulation games. When I was very little, I got a copy of SimCity 2000 which I played a lot of and I also played lots of other computer simulation games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, etc growing up. (Even now, I just bought Parkitect, a just-released amusement park simulation game.) I also put countless hours into Civilization 3 as a young kid. As I got older I developed more of a passion for government and politics and started googling things like “create my own country” or “country simulation game” and came across a number of early options like Nation States, Cyber Nations, and a couple others that I don’t believe are around any longer. Playing games like these (in particular, Cyber Nations) really kindled my interest in trying to make a game like it.

 

ORB Weekly: What made you create PW?

Alex: Playing Cyber Nations I eventually found myself banned due to some really over-the-top moderation – I was just a kid (maybe 11, 12?) and there was some trolling happening in the Cyber Nations IRC channel, I think these players were saying something about ‘the grinch’ who was hacking the game and anyone who knew about it, but didn’t report it to the mods would get banned. So, I sent a message to a mod on the forum about it and they thought I was trolling them and straight up banned me – both on the forum and in-game (this is why if you get banned on the forum in P&W you are not automatically banned in-game.) They totally skipped their 5-warning due process procedure and issued me all of the warns at once. After that, I was young and naive and thought, “I’ll just may my own Cyber Nations!” and thus began the cycle, starting out with a lot of crap ‘games’ as I learned how to make websites, program things on the server side to do basic stuff like register/login, flesh out modified design for the game, etc. My first ‘success’ was Pixel Nations, which started in 2011. It was programmed really terribly and in the end I sold it because it was a big pain for me to manage at the time. A few years later I came back with Politics & War, and the rest is history.

 

ORB Weekly: Of the environments that you built, why did you stick solely with PW?

Alex: That’s a good question. I guess P&W has just been the most successful and important to maintain. I’d like to create more games, but it takes a really big initial investment of time and effort and being busy with work/school it’s just made more sense to keep going with P&W than to get serious about any new projects. Plus, there’s always more work to be done with P&W.

 

ORB Weekly: A few months back, there was some pretty heavy presence with StateKraft – what prompted you to put all that on the back burner?

Alex: There are a lot of things that I wish I had designed differently from the start with P&W, from the design to some mechanics. Some of it I’ve learned from how P&W has progressed that things should have been set up different. StateKraft was a shot at starting from scratch and redesigning  a better (and also different) game. I threw it all on the back burner because there’s still a lot to be done with P&W and I just didn’t have enough time to dedicate to both projects seriously right now.

 

ORB Weekly: As we all know, you play a bit as a nation – what is the story behind jumping into your own game? Is it strictly for research or do you wish to be a part of the community in secret?

Alex: I think it’s useful to play just to keep current with my understanding of how the game is played and get the player’s perspective. I was able to add a lot of convenience things in-game once I started playing again (advanced nation search features, for example) as a result of me being annoyed or having a hard time doing the things I wanted to do while playing.

 

ORB Weekly: How do you balance game development time & RL Time? Especially around the holidays.

Alex: For the most part if I’m not actively developing anything, the game doesn’t take too much time to manage. Sometimes moderation issues flare up that need a big response, but for the most part, I can get by with spending 10 minutes or so per day checking in on the game and going through all of the messages I regularly get. Around the holidays, I’ll usually put things off for a few days at a time and just come back to a big slew of messages. I’m not playing the game currently, so I’m not in any alliances.

 

ORB Weekly: Do you celebrate Christmas? What is one of your favorite traditions?

Alex: I do! While our family has probably a pretty regular Christmas (opening presents and whatnot) for me it’s mostly getting together with the family. I have a lot of brothers and a sister that I don’t get to see very often, so for me that time of year is really about just getting the whole family together and doing family things like eating, playing games together, etc. 

 

ORB Weekly: Any plans for New Year’s Eve?

Alex: Sort of – I’m actually going to India for about 2 weeks. Leaving on December 30th. We’re landing in Delhi at like 1am on New Years Day, so I’ll be about 7 hours into a flight during New Year’s this year.

 

ORB Weekly: Can we expect any changes before the end of 2018?

Alex: Probably nothing major. I’d like to get those Achievements rolled out soon and then start adding some new projects for testing on the Test Server, but I don’t know if I’ll get those out before the end of the year or not. I’d look for some bigger updates starting in late January

 

 

ORB Weekly: As the admin/developer of this game, do you pay attention to wars in terms of mechanics or do you solely wait for community members to bring up war mechanic issues and then get to work on possible changes?

Alex: Not really – before Discord, when most of the important game communications happened on the Forum, it was a lot easier to keep track of what people thought and what was going on. Nowadays, most things happen in Discord servers and I don’t have the time and energy to read back on all of the logs. I generally wait until a suggestion gets enough positive feedback from the community that it warrants me seriously considering, as I’ve learned that I can put a lot of time and effort into a new mechanic/change only to find out everyone hates it and I wasted my time.

 

ORB Weekly: What’s on the docket for 2019?

Alex: Oh definitely. I don’t have anything concrete yet, but I’ll graduate in May and following a move/transition period my plan is to essentially work on P&W and other projects full time. I’d guess the second half of 2019 will be very eventful for P&W. 

 

 

ORB Weekly: What is something you love doing in RL?

Alex: I’m a pretty outdoorsy person – I like hiking, kayaking, and snowboarding. My biggest hobby is probably being a nerd and doing P&W stuff.

 

ORB Weekly: Got a pet? Share a pic with us.

Alex: Sort of- all of my childhood pets are gone, but my parents do have two new cats that I see when I’m visiting home. Here’s a picture I took over Thanksgiving of one of them, named Hemi.

 

Thanks for Reading!

 

Wanted to give Alex a thanks! I sent him questions for this interview probably three times because they kept messing up. I can’t wait for the new year and the changes that could come to PW!