INTERVIEW: All About EveBy: Brotherbird posted at Jul 01, 2007 6:43 pm
Next-Gen: You guys went out on a limb not making a swords and sorcery game. Why?
Raynir Hardarson: You need a vision or a spark that builds itself gradually and naturally into a flame. The excitement of doing something new and stretching the boundaries generally catapults ideas further than substitute systems that have already gone through development in numerous games and become holy cows. Take space combat for example. The physics involved and implemented into the targeting speed and accuracy of the weapons is pretty much unique in an MMO. Being different can be an advantage – generally, it is – but aiming for that specifically does not help you to create a good game. It’s just a means to an end and has nothing directly to do with the goal and the vision.
Eve is a game known for its strong economy. How do you successfully balance an economy in an MMO?
Our experience has been that the hardest things to balance are our own intrusions into the player economy through non-player characters. The more we stay out of things, and build systems for players to use where they define the value of their time, effort, utility, scarcity and other contributing factors to the trade value of items, the easier things get because the players will gravitate towards an equilibrium that will shift naturally with other changes to the economy over time.
Why the merger with White Wolf? They seem like such different companies.
The business overlaps. Different products and specializations and one spirit. That is the gist of it. The people at White Wolf love the worlds they have made, the founders and many of the old employees are still around, much the same as CCP Iceland, and everyone’s approach to the games is therefore on a very personal level. One of the things we did when we were starting the process was to party a lot, play all sorts of games together, ranging from board games and role playing games to shuttling through space in EVE. It was like testing the water or sex before marriage. And it worked great.
You guys are on a hiring blitz. How do you choose new designers?
We receive a great number of applications and they are treated differently by each department. For example, we have notoriously difficult programming tests that people are not necessarily supposed to pass, but just make it through without crying. We benefit from having designers with all sorts of backgrounds and in evaluating them there are usually one or more tasks that they perform. A great number of our employees come from the community and have already proven their initiative and love for our products through private means long before they become actual employees. An eye for detail and a gut feeling for the nature of large and complex systems that overlap and influence each other is a good advantage. Education and experience are important of course. I could go on, but the most important fact remains that a lack of any of the above can be overcome and worked on but sociability is either there or it isn’t. If a person does not gel with the team, that is something that can rarely be helped and creates more serious problems than some technical information or lack of direct experience. So while we pride ourselves on a high education level and extensive experience, we pride ourselves even more on our company culture.
Where do you see the MMO market going in the future?
The MMO market will continue to grow, and various business modules will see the light of day. It influences greatly availability and accessibility of games, and somehow people seem to be much more inclined to be adventurous when it comes to trying out business models than to break the mold when it comes to designing the game itself.
Investors lean towards safe bets when it comes to developing something as expensive as an MMO, so I suspect that an array of fantasy clones will continue to stream off the conveyor belt. But there will be innovators that will make a serious attempt at new, groundbreaking game designs I am sure.
Those are really guesses more or less, though. I’m not too occupied with those things – CCP keeps its eyes open, naturally, but our primary focus is on what we want to do and how we plan on going about it. No industry stunts have affected us so far, so we have the luxury of not worrying about this or that game reaching 2 million, 5 million or 8 million subscribers. It is a special situation and to be honest, it simply reflects the unique position we have achieved through Eve Online.
Eve is still growing its user base. What’s the secret?
I attribute it to Eve being an overall good game, with a wide appeal to both very casual and extremely intense players; an adult player base, looking for huge game arcs; a vibrant, self-contained economy and mature society. We have been successful in creating a true sandbox, which is a format that maintains long-term appeal, and we managed to overcome some of the hurdles that a true sandbox game faces at the outset: Theme park games are strong on the front-end, we are strong on the back-end.
Do you plan to keep growing this iteration, with graphic overhauls and major content updates, or will we see an Eve 2 sometime in the future?
We are a game solely distributed via digital download, mainly subscription-based although we do offer other payment methods as well. We are a company that invests extensively into the child that spurs us on – Eve Online – returning our loyal fan base its trust in us with increased entertainment, new features, shinier toys and an all-around slicker game. EVE 2 will as such not be released, although some of the things we have in store for Eve in the future could be viewed as such. Before long, our players will be walking in stations and enjoying the scenery on planets.
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