Austin GDC 07: Interview with CCP Games

by K. Samwell on September 6, 2007 in Trade Shows

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.

Page 2 – Interview Cont.

Kiersten: So when is it going to be available hardcover?

Hjalti: Who knows!? It’s on the website and I want to make sure our users can enjoy it but also the reason we publish the stories on the website is to draw in new people. So I’d like Black Mountain to be available to both in game players and new people who don’t have to pay extra for it, so they can be drawn a bit more into the world of EVE. Then after the story is completely out we can look at other options for publication.

Kiersten: I think you’ll find a big market for a hardcover copy.

Valerie: Well there is an EVE novel coming out.

Hjalti: We’re all really excited about it.

Kiersten: Now we just talked about this briefly before, but can you narrow it down to your top 5 favourite authors.

Hjalti: That’s kind of like saying pick your five favourite children. But I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy, so Dan Simmons, absolutely, is my top science fiction author but it’s actually his tone that I try to reproduce. It’s a little dark, a little twisted, but it’s got a lot of good moments in it. Then there’s the horror author Clive Barker who has done amazing work. There’s also Harlan Ellison who is a well known science fiction author and a total gadfly which makes him all the more appealing. And I would have to say Terry Pratchett, who writes comic novels. What fascinates me about all these authors is the way they actually treat their subject, even though Pratchett works in a totally different medium, he treats these characters is as totally realistic a way as he possibly can. That’s the approach that I’ve tried to take in my fiction, is you’ve got these people in these extraordinary situations and hundreds of years in the future playing space drones but I always try to make sure that they act and speak and react like real people.

Kiersten: What are you reading right now?

Hjalti: The two books that I have in my backpack right now are called Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It’s a Heinlein-ian science fiction story about what happens when a 75 year old man decides to join the army, and I’m reading Bruce Campbell’s biography as well. I read a lot in my favourite genre, my favourite genre is horror by far, so I read everything I possible could but there comes a point when you realize that if you’re going to be a good reader and a good writer you have to expand, you have to read books, non-fiction, science fiction, westerns, romance, whatever you possibly can, just to expand your repertoire, plus it’s fun.

Kiersten: So what, no Harlequin romance in there?

Hjalti: No I’m keeping that back at the hotel, where nobody can see it.

Kiersten: I know your time is short, is there anything else you’d like to talk about that I haven’t touched on.

Hjalti: Well mostly I just hope people enjoy the stories, Black Mountain just started, published the first installment, a week and a half ago, and it can be going for 8 or 9 months so this is an absolutely perfect time for people to get caught up in the story.

Valerie: And like Hjalti said, too, feedback is very important so our people read these stories, send feedback about them.

Hjalti: Absolutely I’ve always been very open to feedback from players. I have had some very valuable and interesting comments.

Kiersten: I have a quick question for you Valerie. You’ve been a part of this community off and on since 2003, how has the community changed in all that time?

Valerie: One of the cool things about coming back to CCP after being gone for two years wasn’t to see the changes, because I mean that’s just inevitable, people change, things change. What was amazing was to see all the things that were still the same, specifically players who were still around, people on the dev team who were still there. We still have most of the original GMs are still GMs.

Hjalti: I started out as a GM back in beta times and I just did not want to leave the company, so I just got promoted so I could stay around.

Valerie: So yes we still have at least over half a dozen of the original GMs. So that’s been the coolest thing for me, is all this stuff that is a little bit different. Everyone is a little bit older, may look a little bit different and there’s certainly lots of new faces but it was really like a homecoming. As far as changes, of course the company has got larger, but I also think that the community as a whole, and this includes people who have been there all along, but I think everybody got smarter. In the beginning EVE was and has always been about the player conflict, I mean it’s not Hello Kitty online. And so it has always had that aggressive drive, but also just people learning to manipulate each other and manipulate the system and just pull off these amazing heists. I never expected to see any of that. And plus learning to work together, it’s not just a few guys over here and a few guys over there, but you see these massive battles, so that’s the biggest change for me.

Kiersten: Thank you both for your time.

You can read all of the stories at the official site’s chronicles archive page.

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