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Austin GDC 07: Interview with CCP Games
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by K. Samwell on September 6, 2007 in Game Developers Conference

One of the more important aspects of any MMO game is having some great back-story. To gain an idea of what goes on behind the scenes, we sat down with both Web Fiction Author and also the Communications Director for CCP Games, creators of EVE Online.

Introduction


Kiersten: I’m here with Hjalti Daniellson, Web Fiction Author EVE Online and Valerie Massey, Public Relations and Communications Director for CCP.

I understand you’ve started a major online novella to run on the official EVE website. Without giving too much away can you give me a brief insight into what you’re writing about.

Hjalti: Well the novella is called Black Mountain and it’s an ongoing project and will probably finish in April or May next year. I’m going to be doing a lot of things, one of them is taking a few factions in EVE that haven’t been explored that much and basically turning them on their heads. I also want to explore more abstract issues like what happens when good people do very bad things for good reasons and what it means within the context within the world of EVE. EVE in itself is often a world where things happen in a sort of grey area all the time. It’s a very dark world so I want to explore when good people try to do good things within the context.

Kiersten: Are you basing this around a main character or is this more generalized?

Hjalti: There’s a main character that I’ve written about before, I’ve been writing stories for EVE for over a year now and there’s been a new short story every two weeks since August of last year. And the very first story that I published introduced a character that I always planned to do something more with but then, you know time moved on and I never had the time, and eventually I decided, ok, I’m going to take this guy a lot further. So now, yes he’s going to reappear and he is playing the main part of the Black Mountain.

Kiersten: And you’re keeping this Teen rated along with the rating of the game?

Valerie: Yeah I mean it’s on our website, we have to meet the ESRB ratings. It does get a little dark and there have been times when you have these moments that come right up to the line.

Kiersten: So you basically I said, ok I need to do something with this character, finally, something concrete.

Hjalti: Exactly, and just to have a change of pace, I mean I’ve been writing independent stories now for a year, and every time there’s a new set of characters and every time a new set of circumstances and I just said let’s just take somebody, follow him along for a few months put him through the ringer, have horrible things happen to him and see what happens.

Kiersten: Now are you going to let player actions and in game events affect your story line at all?

Hjalti: Possibly, we just had a reshuffling of our event team so I haven’t quite decided how it’s going to work out with the story, but yes I’ve always been very open to player input both in game and out of game. Black Mountain has two, I don’t want to call them protagonists, but two main characters, one is actually a woman I wrote about a few months ago and was so popular in her own story that the players clamoured to have me bring her back. She’s a very dangerous, very unstable person, so I think it will make good story material, so I said, absolutely I’ll do it.

Kiersten: How many chapters do you tend to keep written in advance?

Hjalti: I try to keep as much of a buffer as I possibly can, it depends on the other projects I have because I’m always writing fiction, but I usually have about a three month buffer but with Black Mountain it’s about six to seven months, by now it’s almost all written.


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1. Introduction
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